Passports: Mexico and Canada

Previously one could travel by air to Mexico or Canada and all you were required to present was a photo I.D. That's since changed.

Here's the latest requirements as mandated by the State Department and Department of Homeland Security.
**NOTE: These laws are subject to change. To learn about the latest requirements, visit the State Department's web site:

On January 23, 2007
For all U.S. citizens:

  1. By Land or Sea
    To re-enter the U.S. (from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean):
    • You do need to show a driver’s license and your birth certificate,
    • You can use a passport, but it is not required at this time - the driver's license and birth certificate are fine.

  2. By Air
    To re-enter the U.S. (from Canada, Mexico or Caribbean):
    • You will need a passport or a receipt from the State Department showing that you have a pending passport application. (don't forget: your kids need one, too!).

By June 1, 2009
For all U.S. citizens:

  1. By Air
    To re-enter the U.S. from ANYWHERE in the world:
    • You will need a passport (and your kids, too!)

  2. By Land or Sea
    • You can use a passport
    • OR, if traveling by sea or land, you can use a passport card. A passport card which carries the same rights and privileges as the traditional U.S. passport book. The card will have the same validity period as a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five for children 15 and younger. NOTE: The card can't be used if traveling by air. Visit the State Dept.'s website to learn more on how to apply.

  3. To sum up:
    So by June 1, 2009, to make vacation plans easier, simply plan on having your passport to re-enter the U.S. from anywhere and by any mode of transportation.

Here's how you get your passport (or passport card).

WHN TIP: Allow Adequate Time

Allow AT LEAST eight to ten weeks for the passport application process. Consider ten weeks for peace of mind. (The State Department says to allow eight weeks if they’re busy, yet how will you know when they're busy? Also, applications are heavy due to the new passport laws going into effect.)

WHN TIP: Be Aware of Latest Passport Updates

These laws may change before the 2009 deadline. To learn about the latest requirements, visit the State Department's web site. (Thanks to our readers for that tip!)


Updated: 5/2009