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August 2005 Vol. 31, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Passport Puzzles

from the August, 2005 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you've been traveling in this hemisphere using an ID other than a passport, you may soon find yourself like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, stuck in an airport with no country willing to take you in. Effective December 31, 2005, all U.S. citizens traveling by air or sea to or from the Caribbean, Central and South America, must have a passport. Some of these countries won't allow you in now without a passport. A year later, those rules apply to Mexico and Canada, and beginning December 31, 2007, you'll need a passport to drive back into the US.

If your passport expires within six months of the issuing date, some countries will not let you in. Most won't let you through immigration if your ticket departure date from that country is after your passport expires. Airline personnel at terminals review passports when passengers check in, but not everyone knows the rules. Undercurrent subscriber Jonnie Holzman (Wilmington, DE) was traveling to the Bahamas in February with a passport due to expire before her return. The ticket
agent told her she could leave the country, but doubted she could get back in. Holzman called the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs (888-407-4747 from inside the U.S). and got assurance that she'd be "all right for now."

If you need of a passport or visa quickly, Travel Document Systems makes it easy with their online registration at, 800-874-5100 or 202-638-3800 in D.C. or 888-874-5100 or 415-773-2829 in San Francisco.

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