Western Hemisphere

Areas that fall under the WHTI: 


All persons traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.


The following summarizes information available on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

All U.S. citizens must show proof of identity and proof of U.S. citizenship when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the countries of the Caribbean by land or sea.

Acceptable documents include: U.S. Passport Book, U.S. Passport Card, or other document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. citizens who do not have a single document verifying identity and citizenship must present both an identification and citizenship document; for example, a driver’s license and a copy of a birth certificate or naturalization certificate.

On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security. 

CHILDREN: U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 will be able to present the original or copy of their birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card.

Groups of U.S. citizen children ages 16 through 18, when traveling with a school or religious group, social organization, or sports team, will be able to enter under adult supervision with originals or copies of their birth certificates or other proof of citizenship. See the Department of Homeland Security’sGetYouHome.gov for more information on the changing travel requirements.


  • U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air, land, or sea between the U.S. and the aforementioned Western Hemisphere countries.
  • The U.S. Passport Card: We began production of the U.S. Passport Card on July 14, 2008. The passport card is only valid for re-entry into the United States at land border crossings and seaports of entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.
  • WHTI-Compliant Travel Documents for U.S. citizen travel via land or sea, as of January 31, 2008:
  1. Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
  2. State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available)
  3. Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)
  4. U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
  5. U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business
  6. Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
  7. Form I-872 American Indian Card

For further information see U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website Ready, Set…Go! 


The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), requiring all travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S.

The goal of the initiative is to strengthen U.S. border security while facilitating entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized documentation that enables the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.

Federal Regulations 

Final Rule – Air Phase (PDF)
Final Rule – Passport Card (PDF)
U.S. Land/Sea Document Requirements (PDF)

Other Relevant Links 

Department of Homeland Security 
U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
Applying for a Passport

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