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get your passports!
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The newlywed couple is rushing through O'Hare airport, just a bit later than usual. "Pre-printed boarding passes?" she asks her husband. "Got 'em," he replies. "Sinutab?" she asks. "Got it" he replies. "Valid passports pursuant to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative?" she asks..."Uhh..." he stumbles.
Because of changes in the law, if you are traveling through or to the United States by air, as of January 23, 2007 you are required to have a valid passport in order to do so. Overkill by the government? Maybe. Honeymoon killer? Not if you plan it right!
The new law requires all travelers to and from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda to present a passport or other accepted document that establishes the identity and nationality of the passport-holder to enter or re-enter the United States. Long gone are the days when you could make a verbal declaration of citizenship or show your faded Florida driver license to U.S. border officials. What does this mean? You are going to need a valid passport in order to get back home to Chicago. "The goal," according to the Department of Homeland Security, "is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate international travelers."
As a matter of constitutional law, the fine folks at Homeland Security may not deny a U.S. citizen re-entry into the United States, but if you show up without a passport, they will perform a secondary screening to fully ascertain your citizenship. Why not avoid this trouble?
An added wrinkle
You and the missus just got married, right? Her passport doesn't have her new name in it. Make sure you book your honeymoon tickets under your old names. If the tickets are booked under your "married" names, while there is no guarantee you won't have problems, bring a copy of your marriage certificate with you. (Besides, showing this certificate at your hotel in Jamaica gets you upgraded to the better suite!)
Getting a U.S. passport
United States citizens can visit the State Department's web site http://travel.state.gov for more information on getting a passport. But get one early. It takes as long as 6 weeks for processing of the passport application, and, as GroomGroove.com has learned, you should avoid common mistakes with your passport photo. According to the State Department, peak domestic passport processing is between January and July. That's because people (like grooms gearing up for a honeymoon) are planning summer travel.
Getting a Canadian passport
Canadian citizens can visit Passport Canada's website at http://www.pptc.gc.ca/ for more information on getting a Canuck passport. With the recent enactment of the laws in the U.S., and the propensity of many Canadians to honeymoon in the U.S., getting a passport is critical. (While a U.S. citizen can get on the plane in Chicago and get to Aruba - but may have problems getting back in) you and your angry wife (!) will be sitting at beautiful Pearson airport cooling your heels without even having left.With a little bit of planning, you and your new wife will have valid passports for years and trips to come. [Page 1 of 1]
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