DHS finalizes rule on travel documents

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Thursday issued a final rule setting June 1, 2009 as the date when all crossborder and sea travelers will require a passport or other approved document to enter the United States.

In January, DHS ended the practice of oral declarations of citizenship for individuals from the United States, Canada and Bermuda. Since that time, U.S. and Canadian citizens have been asked to provide proof of identity and citizenship as DHS transitions to a limited set of approved documents border control officers will accept.

Document requirements for air travelers went into effect early last year.

The border security measure builds on recommendation of the 911 Commission for tighter identity checks of citizens and visitors. Members of Congress from border states were able to convince the administration to delay the rule for a year because of concerns businesses that depend on frequent crossborder trips would suffer if people could not easily obtain new documents.

DHS said it published the rule a year in advance to give the public plenty of time to obtain approved documents, such as a passport, a trusted traveler card for prescreened individuals or an enhanced drivers license with counterfeiting protections issued by states and provinces.

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