Going to the Vancouver Olympics? Don't travel without approved documents

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection launched Tuesday an outreach campaign reminding travelers that they will need approved travel documents to enter the United States when returning from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was implemented June 1 at land and sea ports of entry, requiring travelers — including U.S. and Canadian citizens — to present an approved travel document to establish identity and citizenship when entering the United States. The approved documents include a passport, a U.S. passport card, a NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST trusted traveler program card, and a state- or province-issued enhanced driver’s license (EDL).

U.S. and Canadian citizen travelers under age 16, or under age 19 traveling in a school or other official group, need present only a birth certificate as alternative proof of citizenship for entry into the United States.

The communications campaign was developed with the cooperation of the United States Olympic Committee and features U.S. Olympic hopefuls preparing for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games including Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker, pairs figure skating; Billy Demong, Nordic combined; Hannah Teter, snowboarding; and Shani Davis, speedskating. The campaign will include advertising in local and national print, TV, radio and online media.

“The communications campaign tied to the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games demonstrates our commitment to continuing to educate travelers on WHTI travel requirements,” said Jayson P. Ahern, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

“Even though WHTI was successfully implemented and compliance rates continue to be high, it is important that we continue to promote the use of RFID-enabled documents when crossing the land border into the U.S.”

WHTI document requirements for air travel have been in effect since January 2007. Almost all travelers flying back to the United States need to present a passport or NEXUS card.

WHTI is the joint Department of State and Department of Homeland Security plan that implemented a 9/11 Commission recommendation to establish document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda.

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