In 2009, new passport laws went into effect that changed the documents required for travel between the US, Mexico and Canada. Called the Western Travel Initiative (WHTI), the regulations required most US citizens to have either a passport or a passport card for land and sea travel to either country, with a passport book being required for air travel.
Local businesses on both sides of the border have been ruing that day ever since, blaming the requirements for slowing down the number of consumers able to casually hop from country to country.
Now, a new report suggests that at least on the US/Canadian border, the problem may be an issue of perception rather than an actual increase in wait times. According to the Spectator, an in-depth study commissioned by the Binational Economic and Tourism Alliance found that 90 percent of the time, cars and trucks had to wait just 5-10 minutes to get across the border.
Executive director Arlene White told the Spectator that the study was prompted by continued angst from businesses over the new passport requirements:
“We just kept hearing that it’s tough to cross and it’s a hassle. We wanted to know the realities of how much had changed and the economic impacts of the changes since 9/11 … We said let’s gather the facts instead of the myths.”
Slightly less encouraging was the study’s finding that only 53 percent of residents living near border areas had a document that would enable them to cross if they wanted to. The most flexible travel document is a US passport book, which allows for travel by land, air and sea. If the cost of a new passport is prohibitive and you don’t plan on flying, a passport card will allow you to cross over by land or by sea for only $55 per person. Another alternative is a NEXUS card, though the application process is a little more involved and requires a personal interview and a retinal scan.
If you need a new passport, it’s important that you don’t wait until the last minute. Passport applications take about six weeks to process. For a $60 expedite fee, the Department of State’s expedited service will save you some time, but you still must allow three weeks. For faster processing, you must either drive to the nearest Regional Passport Agency office or use a private expediting company like RushMyPassport. By hand-delivering your paperwork to the Department of State, we can cut processing time down to as little as 24 hours with no need to wait in line or make an appointment.
Let us help you get your new passport quickly and easily- get started today!