Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is a new requirement for travelers in the U.S. and Canada to show a passport or similar identity document that shows their citizenship when coming into the U.S.

This requirement came into effect in 2007 for air travel and in 2009 for land and sea travel after the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). It was put into place so that security at the border would be better and that the Department of Homeland Security would be able to identify travelers.

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What Documents Are Required to Travel?

If you are going to travel into these areas, then heed the following information on what documents are needed to travel:

  • In order to go on a plane, you must have your passport and NEXUS card.
  • In order to go via land you need a passport, or a NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI card, or a State Enhanced Driver’s License.
  • For travel by sea you need to have a passport, NEXUS card, State Enhanced Driver’s License, Military ID (if on orders), or if you are coming in on a cruise from Canada, Bermuda, Mexico or in the Caribbean, you need government picture ID and a birth certificate.

Why was WHTI Needed?
The WHTI was put into effect to enhance national security so that travel would be both safer and easier for legitimate travelers. With the fact that terrorism is a very serious issue in the world, the Department of Homeland Security is taking this application seriously and is one of the main directors of the program.

What countries are affected by the WHTI?

Since 2009 when the WHTI went fully into effect, travelers going to the U.S. and any other participating location have to use a passport and/or other WHTI accepted documentation. There are 17 countries that are participating in this initiation of the WHTI. These include: Anguilla, Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Netherlands, Turks, U.S. and Caicos Islands.

Any other locations will still follow their previous requirements of having to have a passport and/or visa when traveling to the U.S. or Canada.

For more information contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Customs office, or passport issuing facilities.