U.S. Customs and Border Protection Assistant Commissioner Thomas Winkowski says the government will be flexible in implementing the new rules. But he urges people to prepare for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which is intended to make the country’s borders safer from terrorism.
Now, U.S. and Canadian citizens entering the country by land can show an ID and tell the agent their nationality.
But starting next Thursday, they’ll have to show a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, plus a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship.
Then in June ’09 or after, American travelers entering at U.S. sea or land ports will need either a U.S. passport or a U.S. passport card. Other documents will be acceptable for military and certain other groups.
Winkowski says that for those who don’t yet have the right identification, they still have time to get the right IDs. For now, border officials will try to be flexible.