Peterson Announces Relaxed Travel Restrictions within Western Hemisphere

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. John E. Peterson, R-Pleasantville, announced that the Departments of State and Homeland Security have relaxed current travel restrictions for U.S. citizens traveling abroad within the Western Hemisphere in response to an overwhelming backlog of passport applications.

In a statement jointly released by the State and Homeland Security Departments, travel changes are as follow: “U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda who have applied for but not yet received passports can nevertheless temporarily enter and depart from the United States by air with a government-issued photo identification and State Department official proof of application for a passport through Sept. 30. 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.”

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was mandated by Congress in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for citizens and legitimate international visitors. WHTI requirements for air travel took effect on Jan. 23 and have largely been the cause of this current backlog.

Travelers who have not applied for a passport should not expect to be accommodated. U.S. citizens with pending passport applications can obtain proof of application through this link. This accommodation does not affect entry requirements to other countries. Americans traveling to a country that requires passports must still present those documents.

Constituents taking advantage of this new temporary exemption can print out the online passport status check that may be accessed through the Web site above. This status check can be used to prove that a passport application has been received by the State Department.

For information about the passport application process, the status of a passport application, or an emergency passport, contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778.

Constituents are also strongly encouraged to contact Peterson’s district office at 238-1776 with any questions regarding the passport application process.

Peterson added: “My staff is here to assist anyone with specific international travel questions. I do, however, urge all travelers not to wait until a few days before your departure scheduled date. Short notice limits our ability to best serve one’s passport needs

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