Saturday, February 23, 2008

The WHTI hits home

Has anyone looked into this yet? I don't know whether to feel safe or be seriously annoyed! LOL

Apparently, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was designed to required "all travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S." Initially, that meant all U.S. citizens were going to need a passport.

However, due to a cost of $100 each for an adult plus a processing time of several weeks, impatient U.S. citizens (particularly those in "border" states) got a tad irritated! LOL Additionally, as a result, the government got completely inundated with applications!

Then, fee "extortion" began where local providers were jacking up costs more than the federal government required...U.S. citizens got further annoyed.

So, while the Department of Homeland Security is still enforcing the new requirements on air travel, they have backpedaled a tad for those of us traveling only by land and water to Canada, Mexico, and warm cruise-friendly areas like the Bahamas and Caribbean and provided this neat, smaller, cheaper alternatives: passport cards!

At this point in time, they are also allowing Canadian and American citizens to provide a birth certificate and drivers license which will eventually end "at a later date, to be determined."

Now, what little knowledge I have of my federal government gives me pause with phrases like "at a later date to be determined" which gives me pictures in my head of DaHubby, the Vikings, and I standing at a border crossing several hundred miles from here, hungry kids crying, van full of traveling gear and some assumingly nice federal employee telling me that as of the previous Monday, I really do need a full passport now. LOL

And, one downside is that if we apply for traditional passports at a later date, we must pay full price despite the fact that the government has already checked us out once and will accept its' own passport card as ID for the full passport application! LOL

Anyway, instead of $370 for full passport books for all of us, it looks like I will be budgeting for $160 for four passport cards! And, with a possible 4-6 weeks wait (but I've heard it's up to 12 weeks+), I guess I should get on sooner as opposed to later!


Beth said...

The post office adds a fee onto the cost of the passport. When we were living in Lebanon I just had to go to the embassy to renew my passport. They just courier the forms and old passport to the States and back again. It takes 1 week! It goes straight to the State Dept. and back again. And, best of all, it doesn't cost as much as it would to do it in the States because I'm not paying the post office anything. :)

Unashamed said...

Big smiles here!

sara said...

My aunt tried to get an emergency passport which is supposed to be expedited. Tough luck. She waited months.

On the up side, we can visit Anita on her side of the border without worrying about getting stuck in the land of the Munsch lovers. for now.

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

My bro-in-law needed an expedited one to go to a training in Brazil and actually got it...but he's in the uppity-ups of IBM. LOL

Unashamed said...

Oh! Burn!

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...