Proposed Rule Would Require Passports for Air and Sea Travel to the United States by January 8, 2007.

In a jointly issued proposed rule, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced and submitted for public comment the air and sea phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative would require all U.S. citizens, Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and Mexican citizens, to have a passport or other designated secure document to enter or re-enter the United States at airports and seaports by January 8, 2007.

This notice of proposed rulemaking is the first phase of a joint plan to implement the requirements of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 which provides that, by January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals may enter the country only with passports or such alternative documents as the Secretary of DHS may designate as satisfactorily establishing identity and citizenship.

This first phase will not change the requirements for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals from Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico entering the U.S. at land border ports-of-entry and certain types of arrivals by sea (ferries and pleasure vessels). These requirements will be addressed in a separate, future rulemaking process.

Interested persons are invited to participate in the rulemaking process by submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of the proposed rule. Comments on the Air and Sea Travel proposed rules must be submitted to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection no later than September 25, 2006.

For more information on this proposed rule, you may read the Federal Register (71 FR 46155) notice here.