The US State Department had issued a notice regarding changes in travel policy requiring American passengers to now carry a US Passport when traveling anywhere outside the United States including the Caribbean islands, Latin America, and Mexico. Prior to this, citizens could enter one of these destinations with a birth certificate and a driver’s license. A deadline had been discussed for the end of this year that would require travelers to the Caribbean to carry passports, but that date has now been moved back a year to December 31st, 2006 as per the State Department, due in part to an overwhelming response from people asking for an extension.
Rather than wait until the last minute, start the passport process now and be ready for next year. Using expedited service still takes two weeks from the time you submit your application. It takes up to six weeks using regular service. Your passport is good for ten years. Visit http://www.travel. state. gov for more information and a passport application.
Information from the State Government Website:
When will the Travel Initiative be implemented? In the proposed implementation plan, which is subject to a period of initial public comment, the Initiative will be rolled out in phases, providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable them to meet the terms of the new guidelines. The proposed timeline will be as follows:
Is this a change to the additional phase that was to be implemented on December 31, 2005?
Yes, in April 2005, the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed plan to be implemented in three phases beginning on December 31, 2005 for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. After further review and considering the delay in publishing the public notice in the Federal Register, DOS and DHS recognized that implementing the December 31, 2005, phase would be problematic for travelers during the upcoming winter tourism season. This change will simplify the implementation and provide a longer lead-time for travelers to come into compliance with the requirements.
Bret Sigillo is the President and Founder of Saand.com, Inc. (http://www.saand.com ) a unique marketplace for short-term villa & vacation rentals in the Caribbean, Latin America and Hawaii. With over 600 homes in inventory Saand.com has defined the online reservation experience for the vacation traveler while extending customer reach for homeowners.