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January 7, 2008: Do U.S. Citizens Need A Passport To Go In And Out Of Mexico?

Do U.S. Citizens Need A Passport To Go In And Out Of Mexico?

In the New Year, can we go to Mexico without a new passport? We are U.S. citizens.
— Mario

Before you travel between the United States and any foreign country, you should visit the United States State Department website at www.travel.state.gov. This website will provide you with the most up-to-date documentary requirements for travel abroad.

As of the writing of this response, beginning January 31, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will implement the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). This Initiative will require all travelers who are citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda and who are entering the United States through land and sea ports to provide “WHTI-compliant documentation.” It will no longer accept oral declarations regarding United States citizenship. United States and Canadian citizen travelers who are over the age of 18 (19 and older) will be required to present “a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate.” United States and Canadian citizen travelers who are 18 years old and younger will only need to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

As of January 23, 2007, citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda have been required to present a valid passport when traveling by air. If you do not provide sufficient documentation at the port of entry, you will likely be placed in secondary inspection by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). A CBP officer “will evaluate any evidence of citizenship or identity the individual may have and will verify all information against available databases.” This secondary inspection may delay your admission at the port of entry by several hours while the officer verifies your information in its databases. In some cases, the officer may not admit you on that day and require you to appear at a deferred inspections office to bring in the proof of your citizenship.

To avoid any and all potential issues at a port-of-entry, it would be wise for you to apply for a United States passport and not travel until you receive it.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys

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