The New PASS card will utilize Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. It will only be used to store and transmit a unique reference number. This will serve as a link to information safeguarded in a secure database managed by Customs and Border Protection. The Department of State will assign the reference number when the passport card is issued and no personal or biographic information will be stored or transmitted using the RFID technology.
Time magazine spoke with the acting director of DHS's U.S. VISIT program and the director of DHS's newly created Screening Coordination Office in "EZPass for the Border".
The U.S. Department of State announced the first official information regarding the new passport card. The passport card is intended as a lower cost means of establishing identity and nationality for American citizens crossing U.S. land borders and traveling by sea between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda. The rule, published today, proposes a wallet-sized card that would cost $35 for children and $45 for adults.
The rules are open for public comment. If you would like to make a comment or review the text of the rule, the docket ID is DOS-2006-0329. Because of the way the web site is setup, you will need to enter the docket ID in the search found at Regulations.gov.
Wikipedia has a great deal of information on passports. While I have not read all of the information, what I have read does appear to be correct and up to date. Some examples of what can be found there include:
"Many Arab and Muslim countries will not allow entries to people with evidence of visits to Israel or used or unused Israeli visas in their passports, since the existence of the state of Israel is not recognized by these countries. To help foreigners circumvent these restrictions, Israel does not require visitors to have their passports stamped upon entry or advanced visas, making it difficult for those countries to tell if a citizen or tourist went there."
"Citizens of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua do not require a passport to travel between any of the four countries. A National ID card is sufficient for entry. In addition, the CA-4 agreement implemented the Central American Single Visa for citizens of all other countries, eliminating the need for separate entry visas for each of the countries"
For further information see Passports on Wikipedia
At a presentation I was giving before a Chamber of Commerce, I was asked if a passport was required to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
No, I said. They are a part of the United States and U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the U.S. 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.)
The chamber member proceeded to tell the story of an airline employee who was not going to let him board a flight to the U.S. Virgin Islands without a passport. He was finally allowed to board, after a lengthy discussion and being asked to sign a waiver.
I came across another story, Beware Your Passport, of a traveler with a similar experience. This traveler was not as lucky.
With the new passport regulations coming into effect in phases, with airlines that can apply their own rules, and with immigration officials who are given a broad allowance for interpreting the rules, traveling with a valid passport can reduce the stress and headaches.
Congress has passed a bill that changes the passport requirement for travelers. Passports will still be required for air travel as of Jan. 8, 2007. The requirement to have a passport for land crossings and cruise passengers has been delayed until June 1, 2009.
In 2004 the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was implemented. This required that by January 1, 2008, travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States. It was to be implemented in phases. For those who want to learn more about the original requirements, the U.S. State Department has information at WHTI.
An amendment was added to the Homeland Security Department appropriations bill that makes some changes to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. There is an article in Travel Weekly that contains some of the details about these changes. You may be required to create a user ID before viewing the article, entitled "Congress passes bill delaying passport rule for land, sea travel".
We continue the discussion of the new ePassport. Currently only the Colorado Passport Office is issuing the new e-Passport, with the rest of the offices scheduled to begin before the first of the year. An article that takes the opposite view of the new computer chip that will be embedded in U.S. passports can be found at " Fears of ePassport technology vastly overblown".
We have decided to start a blog as a place to reference the many articles we come across that deal with the changing requirements of International Travel. Most of the entries will not qualify as specific procedural updates. Those are already covered on Updates and travel warnings are covered on Travel Warnings. This will be a place to see what others have to say.
We begin with an article on the computer chip new U.S. passports will contain. E-Passports, the name the U.S. State Department has given them, will contain an RFID or radio-frequency identification chip. Washington Post columnist, Bruce Schneier, recommends renewing your passport now in "The ID Chip You Don't Want in Your Passport".