Friday, December 01, 2006

I am a big fan of traveling down south to Mexico or traveling up north to Canada, their both great countries to visit. Since I don't have to go through whole rigmarole of having to have my passport stamped every time I visit, it makes it so much better; all I needed to do was show my California drivers license or my birth certificate to re-enter the United States. But thanks to "The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004" that will all be a thing of the past.Beginning January 23, 2007, every U.S. citizens traveling by air between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid U.S. passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, children too, but at least the government has a sense of humor, you notice the date is not January 1st, they want to give the New Year's partygoers one last fling before you have to register with the government. Because if your not registered with the United States Government you will not be able to leave or re-enter the country.There is a catch, this rule is only for travelers who fly and not those who walk or drive across the border, so if you are fond of your casual stroll across international borders you will get one more year to walk home drunk. If you've ever been to Tijuana you will understand that last sentence.Under a different program, Homeland Security plans to require all travelers entering the U.S. by land or sea, including Americans, to show passports, starting as early as January 2008. No more three day cruises without a passport.The Homeland Security Department estimates that about one in four Americans has a passport. The cost for a new passport is about $97 per person, a pretty steep price if you're on a budget.The US Government think the price won't be a problem at all, because data revealed that in September 2006, 90 percent of passengers leaving from Canadian airports had passports. The department of Homeland security estimated that 69 percent of U.S. air travelers to Canada, 58 percent of U.S. travelers to Mexico, and 75 percent of U.S. travelers to the Caribbean hold passports.Also in 2008 if you are a single parent, you will need a document from the other parent allowing you to take the child out of the country. This is the governments attempt to keep custody battles from getting out of hand, and one or the other family member taking the child out of the country without permission.See you in 2007, from everyone at have a happy holiday season!