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Most Canadians unsure about passport for US travel

7 November 2007

Even now, many Canadians are confused about when a passport is required to enter the United States, even as a majority of them believe that they are aware of the present travel regulations.

According to a recent survey conducted by Harris-Decima, 51% of Canadians polled said they believed that they needed a passport to enter the United States at sea, and 39% said they believe that a passport is required to enter at land border crossings.

The fact is that currently Canadians only need a passport to enter the United States by air.

The survey of 1,000 Canadian adults, commissioned by Disney Parks Canada, also revealed that 42% of those polled lacked a Canadian passport.

The results of the survey were released on November 4, 2007.

The findings show that Canadians could be in trouble if they do not become better informed, in the form of delayed trips and lost business opportunities, according to Bruce Anderson, president of Harris/Decima.

Anderson added in an interview: “What these numbers are telling us is that not only do all Canadians not really know what the future rules will be but also most of them feel confident that they do know. So I think there’s some work ahead, obviously, for those who have a need to make sure that Canadians are well informed.”

Though the Canadians at present only need a passport to enter the United States by air, that is expected to change in the summer of 2008 when passports will be required at land and sea entry points in the US.

The new rules are part of a “Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative’ passed by the United States Congress in 2004 in an effort to plug security holes after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US.

These new rules were supposed to take effect in January 2007, but, in June 2007, the US issued a reprieve on passports for people entering at land and sea points until at least the summer of 2008.

Canada has been trying to make the US officials endorse high-technology driver’s licenses as alternatives to passports, arguing that the plan to require passports has already hit Canada’s tourism.

Ottawa is also considering whether to devise a passport card, like the one the United States is developing, that would cost less but provide the same proof of identity and citizenship.

A current alternative to a passport when traveling by air from Canada to the United States is a NEXUS card. Low-risk, pre-approved, frequent travelers can obtain the NEXUS card for $80, which would help them move quickly through the border clearance process.






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