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NEW PASSPORT RULES

POSTED: Monday, June 1, 2009 - 8:23am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:24pm

Travelers face tougher requirements to enter the United States.

New passport rules take effect today. It's the final phase of a Homeland Security policy called the the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

The anti-terrorism plan calls for tougher documentation requirements for US citizens entering this country.

Starting today, US citizens who cross the border will need a passport or other forms of proof of identify and citizenship to get back into the US.

That goes for travelers from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and parts of the Caribbean.

James Murphy is trying to get the first passport of his life. He has only one complaint about the new rules.

Mr. Murphy said "it costs a lot of money to have this done, and it would be nice if the government took a little part of that."

A passport costs from $75 to $100 for an adult. A passport card which looks like a driver's license costs less than half that much. It can be used to walk or drive across the border from Canada or Mexico or to take ferries or cruises.

Travelers could also use an enhanced driver's license with embedded identify information that refers border agents to a stored database.

Other acceptable documentation includes Trusted Traveler cards often used by truckers. They require more screening to obtain.

The new requirements are the last phase of an initiative that took effect in January 2007.

Robert Jacksta of the Customs & Border Protection Agency said "we believe it's going to enhance security by providing for better controls on individuals who may present fraudulent documents."

The US Customs and Border Protection Agency launched a campaign to raise awareness of the requirements.

There will be a grace period this summer.

A customs agent said "they will not be turned away. We will give them an advisory, and let them know they are not compliant."

Part of a process for tighter controls to help keep track of who is crossing the borders.

Information on how to get the various entry cards can be found on this webpage: www.getyouhome.gov.

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