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New Passport Regulations Challenge Passengers

What you need to cross the border by land or sea

Vacation PlanningVacation PlanningIt's happened. After two years of warnings and pushed back deadlines, US border controls have tightened up.

In the embarrassing circumstance that your ID is stuck sitting on the staircase, Homeland Security will go easy on you - but only for the next few weeks. Look forward to an indefinite delay while they decide if you're really you. Oh, and afterwards they'll pass you a fact sheet related to the new border rules (like you don't already feel completely humiliated by the process).

Acceptable ID

The easiest way to avoid a US border snafu is to offer up a valid passport. Americans who'd rather not shell out that much cash can buy a way cheaper passport card - but it isn't valid outside of North America.

Don't have either? These are your other options:

  • Kids under can travel using just a birth certificate
  • Combining government issued photo ID with proof of citizenship (birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad or citizenship card.
  • A NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST card for frequent border stops
  • US Military ID with your travel orders
  • US Merchant Mariner Document
  • Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card, Form I-872 American Indian Card or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card.

US Territories are exotic destinations that don't require cross-border travel

Direct trips between the US and its territories don't count as leaving the country - so you don't need a passport. With options like American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico what else are you waiting for?

If you're going by plane, check first to see what ID you'll need. But either way, skipping customs should make your vacation much smoother.

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