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Travel Tips-Feb. 15, 2013
San Francisco & Napa
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#1 Tips for Traveling Abroad

If you are traveling abroad here are the top 10 tips you need to make your trip easier:

  1. Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required. Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport!
  2. Read the Consular Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the countries you plan to visit.
  3. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, the U.S. Constitution does not follow you! While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.
  4. Make 2 copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.
  5. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
  6. Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas. Do not accept packages from strangers.
  7. Prior to your departure, you should register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs . Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts may not be released without your express authorization. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the United States.
  8. To avoid being a target of crime, try not to wear conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.
  9. In order to avoid violating local laws, deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money or purchase art or antiques,

If you get into trouble, contact the nearest U.S. embassy.
  
Courtesy of U.S. Department of State



#2 New Requirements for Travelers
 
Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)
The proposed implementation timeline has two phases:
  
  • Beginning January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable.
  • As early as January 1, 2008, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. While recent legislative changes permit a later deadline, the Departments of State and Homeland Security are working to meet all requirements as soon as possible. Ample advance notice will be provided to enable the public to obtain passports or passport cards for land/sea entries.
  • The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.  U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the United States and do not need to present a passport.  U.S. territories include the following: Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
     

Travel Documents for U.S. Citizens Under WHTI
 
Under the proposed implementation plan, the following documents will be acceptable to fulfill document requirements:

  • U.S. Passport:   U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, and may also use a U.S. passport when traveling via sea and land borders (including ferry crossings).
  • The Passport Card (also referred to as the PASS Card): This limited-use passport in card format is currently under development and will be available for use for travel only via land or sea (including ferries) between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.  Similar in size to a credit card, it will fit easily into a wallet.
  • DOS and DHS also anticipate that the following documents will continue to be acceptable for their current travel uses under WHTI:  SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST, and the U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document.  As proposed, members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty traveling on orders will continue to be exempt from the passport requirement.  
     

Background
 
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State to develop and implement a plan to require all  travelers, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike, to present a passport or other document, or a combination of documents, that denote identity and citizenship when entering the United States.  Congress amended portions of the Act in 2006.  The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is the Administration’s proposed plan to implement this mandate.
  
The goal of the Initiative is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized, secure and reliable documentation which will allow the Department of Homeland Security to quickly, reliably and accurately identify a traveler.  
   
Courtesy of U.S. Department of State