It used to be so easy to pop in for a visit to our neighbors in Mexico and Canada. Years ago, all you had to do was verbally declare your citizenship at the border. Then, the government passed the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).  WHTI tightened identification requirements for people traveling to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. So, do you need a passport to go to Canada? Do you need a passport to go to Mexico? Right now, you don’t need a passport to go to either of these countries by land or by sea, but you do if you’re flying in. However, starting June 1, 2009, you will need a passport or another form of WHTI-compliant ID to cross the border, period. For most people, a passport or a passport card is the easiest WHTI-compliant document to obtain.

According to this interesting post on the LA Times’ Daily Deal blog, it’s a good idea to get your passport application in now if you plan to travel out of the country in 2009.  In the past, changes in passport requirements have caused massive increases in the number of passport applications the department has to process.  In 2007, a deluge of extra passport applications increased the processing time required for new or updated passports. It’s possible that the new 2009 passport laws could have the same effect. Of course, the fastest and most foolproof way to apply for your passport is to use a passport expediting service like  With an expediting service, you have a professional to review your passport application, catch any mistakes, and personally see that it gets processed in the promised amount of time.  It’s hard to beat that type of service!