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U.S. passport requirement postponed

In the face of pressure from would-be travelers and the travel industry, the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security announced Friday that U.S. citizens traveling between Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda won't have to show a passport until Sept. 30.

Under legislation to secure the borders in the wake of 9/11, the government imposed the passport requirement starting Jan. 23, but a backlog of applications led to this postponement.

Now, travelers who have applied for but not yet received passports can temporarily enter and depart from the U.S. by air with a government-issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport through Sept. 30.

HOW TO PROVE IT

Adults who have applied for but not yet received a passport should present government-issued photo identification and an official proof of application from the U.S. Department of State. 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. 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 by clicking here.

This accommodation does not affect entry requirements to other countries. Americans traveling to a country that requires passports must still present those documents. Further, the passport requirement applies only to travelers entering the U.S. by air. New passport requirements applying to those traveling by car or on cruise ships will be implemented no later than June 1, 2009, but could be put in place as early as January 2008 if government officials meet certain Congressional mandates proving they are prepared to handle the next phase.

TIME FOR A TIMEOUT

“Common sense prevails,” said Roger J. Dow, president and CEO of the Washington-based Travel Industry Association. “It’s an important timeout that allows the machinery of government to catch up with the new laws.”

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