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NTA Comments on Passport Delay

June 8, 2007

NTA Comments on Passport Delay
June 8, 2007 – The Bush administration announced today it will delay the air requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a law that would require citizens of the United States to have a passport when entering into the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. U.S. citizens will temporarily be allowed to re-enter the United States from anywhere in the Western Hemisphere provided the traveler can prove he or she applied for a passport.


"Since the announcement of WHTI in 2005, the National Tour Association has been concerned about the significant impediment to cross-border travel for negligible security gain," said NTA Chairman and CEO Randy Julian. "We applaud the departments of State and Homeland Security for recognizing the magnitude of the problems in implementing WHTI and hope they will take further action to allow for a smoother implementation of the passport mandate and help to minimize cross-border travel disruptions."


Due to extensive delays in processing passport applications, U.S. citizens are allowed to travel by air with a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport now through Sept. 30, 2007. Children under the age of 16 traveling with their parents or legal guardian will be permitted to travel with the child’s proof of application as well. Those travelers who have not applied for a passport will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S.


"Despite this most recent delay, NTA still believes that we must do more to maintain border integrity and facilitate cross-border tourism as we look to the implementation of the land and sea requirements," said Julian. "


According to current WHTI language, the departments can begin to implement WHTI at land and sea ports of entry as early as January 2008.


Last month, NTA urged its U.S. members and travel industry professionals to contact their U.S. senators about co-sponsoring the Western Hemisphere Traveler Improvement Act. Introduced by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the legislation aims to lessen the burden of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, by creating a nationwide secure driver’s license program for cross-border travel and will delay WHTI implementation for land and sea entry.


On May 9 of this year, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1684, the Department of Homeland Security Authorization bill. In the bill was language drafted by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., that would require DHS to perform an extensive cost-benefit analysis of WHTI before its full implementation. The bill also would require DHS to conduct a trial on the passport card technology and share the results with Congress before issuing a final rule implementing WHTI.


"Provisions such as these are critical," said Julian. "We must provide citizens with a low-cost passport alternative and ensure a full cost-benefit analysis of it has been conducted before it comes into effect. NTA has been concerned that a hasty implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative would serve as an unnecessary and avoidable impediment to cross-border travel. The massive passport processing delays only justify these concerns."


U.S. citizens with pending passport applications can obtain proof of application at:


The National Tour Association was established in 1951 as a unified voice to fight legislation in the newly formed packaged travel industry. Today, NTA’s government relations activities include monitoring security issues, as well as state and federal legislation and regulatory issues affecting the travel and tourism industry. NTA maintains full-time representation in Washington, D.C., to serve as the association’s voice on Capitol Hill. Additionally, NTA empowers its members to be advocates for the association on the local level, as well as to provide support for NTA’s positions on national priority issues through its Grassroots Action Network. For more information on NTA’s government relations activities, please visit or call 800.682.8886.


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To read a timeline of the WHTI legislation, visit this site.

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