Monday, March 31, 2008

Passports Rules for Cruises Finalized

This has been a confusing issue for us in the Travel Industry, especially Cruise Specialists, and we've had so many questions from our clients "do I need a Passport?" Well, the final answer is now here.

Do we recommend getting one? Absolutely! You do need it for Europe, Asia, S. America and many other exciting places to go on a cruise (and you will want to do these one day too). You will need it if for some reason you had to leave a ship in the Caribbean and fly home before the cruise gets back to the US.

And for the little it really costs amortized over the 10 years it is valid for, it is a bargain. So as you read this report on the Final Passport Rules for taking Cruises, remember, things could still change depending on circumstances in the future. But for now, here's the information:

FINAL Passport Rule Issued for Land and Sea Borders 3 27 08

Yesterday, the Departments of Homeland Security and of State issued the final rulemaking concerning the requirements of passports for land and sea border crossings under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. After years of development following 9/11, this ruling is the end of the process and can be considered FINAL when helping your clients ensure they have the proper identification when traveling.Effective June 1, 2009, the following rules take effect for cruise passengers:

U.S. citizens on cruise voyages that begin and end at the same U.S. port (closed-loop itineraries) must show proof of citizenship* and government-issued photo ID (such as a driver¿s license). A passport will not be required for passengers that fall into this category. (Note: it is still strongly urged for travelers to hold a current/valid passport in case of emergency situation that might make it necessary to debark in a foreign port)

*Documents include: Original or certified copy of birth certificate; Naturalization papers; Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by Department of StateAll other passengers and/or itineraries (such as cruises which begin in one U.S. port and return to a different U.S. port or any cruise that begins or ends in a foreign port) will require a passport or other recognized document. For a list of accepted documents, see www.travel.state.gov.

The good news for a majority of cruise passengers ¿ American citizens that leave and return on their cruise from the same U.S. port ¿ is that the travel document requirements will remain largely unchanged from how the industry is operating today. CLIA continues to encourage travelers to obtain passports to allow the broadest travel opportunities. Your clients can visit www.travel.state.gov to obtain information on how to apply at more than 9,000 passport acceptance facilities in the United States.

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