A few months ago I got my passport. Let me first say: YAY ME! I IS GROWN NA!!
Okay, got that out of the way. Needless to say, I was so excited. I felt so cosmopolitan and mature! Id’ been on trips, but at that time, I only needed a birth certificate. This made me think – why do we need passports anyway?
The short answer is passports make sure border patrols at any country knows who you are. It confirms your identity. The extended answer is that a passport makes sure that if you are a citizen of the U.S., you can enter back into the U.S. with no problem. And although a U.S. passport does not guarantee entrance into another country, it does allow or make it much easier for you to do so.
Passports have evolved from a one-page document with no picture beginning around 1775 during wartime to what it is today. They were not a required document until 1918. Photos, at one time, were stapled. Now pictures are digitally generated and guidelines are enforced by the U.S. Department of State. Due to terrorism – especially 9/11 – guidelines have become even more rigid.
Consequently, The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was implemented. Its main purpose is to set out what is needed to travel by land and/or sea in regards to identification when going into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Travel between the U.S. mainland and U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is not affected.
As of June 1, 2009, the following documents are acceptable for entry into the U.S. via land or sea by adult U.S. and Canadian citizens:
Enhanced Driver’s License
Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI OR FAST)
U.S. Military identification card when traveling on orders
U.S. Merchant Mariner document when traveling on official business
Form I-872 American Indian Card
Enhanced Tribal Card
For additional information please visit the website The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.