Get ready for a passport shakeup as the rules change. There are countries you can travel to and from without showing a passport, but their number has already begun to shrink. Effective May 1, crewmembers are required to show a valid passport when entering Mexico. A proposal by the U.S. Depart-ment of Homeland Security, to go into effect in three phases, will take that even further.
Official publication of a proposal has been delayed, but it is still intended that after December 31 this year a passport or other accepted document will be required for all travel (air and sea) to or from the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central and South America. After December 31 next year, a passport or other accepted document will be required for all air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada. And after Dec. 31, 2007, a passport or other accepted document will be required for all air, sea and land border crossings into the U.S.
The goal of what is being called “the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative,” according to the Department of Homeland Security, is to “strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors.”
Reminder: The advance passenger information system (APIS) rules are changing. A reminder that as of June 6 the Customs and Border Protection’s (CPB) new “Electronic Transmission of Passenger and Crew Manifests for Vessels and Aircraft” will be effective. The rule codifies current reporting requirements existing in TSA security directives and CBP regulations and introduces some additional reporting requirements effective as of June 6.
Among these, effective October 4, operators will no longer be able to submit APIS transmissions through NBAA. CBP has developed its own “eAPIS Online Transmission System,” available for use at http://eapis.cbp.dhs.gov. The new rules are extensive and can be found on the NBAA Web site: www.nbaa.org/public/ops/intl/apis.
The list of user-fee airports keeps changing. According to Customs and Border Protection, a user-fee airport is one that, while not qualifying for designation as an international or landing-rights airport, has been approved by CBP to receive, for a fee, the services of a CBP officer for processing of aircraft, passengers and cargo entering the U.S.
Last month the agency designated Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass.; Eagle County Regional Airport in Eagle, Colo.; and Rogers Municipal Airport/Carter Field in Rogers, Ark., user-fee facilities. At the same time, CBP withdrew the user-fee designations for Rogue Valley International Airport in Medford, Ore., and Hulman Regional Airport in Terre Haute, Ind.
Designation as a user-fee airport is generally based on the volume of business at any particular airport and requires approval of the governor of the state in which the airport is located. Fees vary and are in the amount of the expenses incurred in providing customs services. For more information, contact Dennis Dore, CBP office of field operations, at (202) 344-2776.