New Passport Laws


Well-Known Member
Aug 31, 2006
I have a question on the new laws? I was told yesterday that if you fly to Canada or Mexico you now need a passport. Which I have no problem with. But I was also told that you don't need one if you are driving across the border. Is this true? I just don't understand the reasoning why you need one when you fly but not when you drive? Does this not make sense to anyone else?
From the state department: 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 issue is volume when you drive I think. If you look at like the 405 or the 5 down past San Diego, the number of cars passing through per second is just too high. Its also somewhat usless to check, since you can go a few miles off the road and hop over the non existant fence if you want to get past. The air route is more of a target, and lower volume so easier to check.
I was just about to say, I was pretty sure that a passport was also required to cross borders when you drive. My friends and I are planning a driving trip to Canada, but have to straighten some things out for one of my friends who only has a green card.
Guess it only makes sense, when you think about it. I suppose the only reason it seems strange is that up to now there has been no need for a passport to visit neighboring countries. But we'll get used to it, I suppose.

By the way, I have been caught on that stretch between the border and San Diego. Driving into Mexico was a piece of cake; getting out was another thing altogether. And I did not find it worth the trip at all.
Thanks for the clarification. I did not realize that it would be by land also by Jan. 08. You are right though about crossing into Mexico, no problem going in but oh my goodness coming back I thought I would never get back into the states. But again that was the first and only time I ever crossed the border into Mexico.
When I flew to Central America over the summer, it was really easy and hassle-free to get into the country, but took FOREVER to get through US customs on the way back. The difference was very striking.
I don't forsee this being a problem for me. It's when I have to start having a passport to travel between STATES that I'll begin to worry. LOL
Oh, I agree. If we ever had to have papers to get from one state the the next, it would be absolute chaos.

Guess we can be happy that the United States has the Constitution instead of the Articles of Confederation LOL. Under those, I seem to recall each state would be free to issue its own currency. Can you imagine having to keep up with the exchange rates when you crossed state borders?
I would probably never go to another state honestly. I hate crossing borders to go to another country. I just am always afraid that something will go wrong and I will get arrested or something. Not that I have or am doing anything wrong it just makes me nervous. I could not imagine doing this to go to another state.
I'm not afraid of something bad happening; it just usually ends up being such a hassle and big deal to cross any major borders. It's almost like a deterrent to keep you in (or out of) the US.
Other than a handful of countries I would like to visit, chances are I will remain in the US for the rest of my life. I simply have no desire to spend an extended period of time outside the country anyway.
Hmmm, would you say that if the US weren't quite so...geographically isolated from certain other parts of the world? Or would this be more due to the fact it's a developed nation?
Certainly, I would think that if I lived in a part of the world where my country was roughly the size of the state I currently live in, I would tend to travel "abroad" and have more of a desire to do so. The thing is I have had opportunities to do a little traveling in years past for work. That has pretty much scratched my itch. These days, I am content to hang close to home and hearth.
I'm not really sure about that one, to be honest, given exposure bias. I know that the most heavily populated city in Australia (Sydney, 6 million people) doesn't have a patch on some of the capitals in other places (London, HK, NY etc.) but I can hardly imagine this influencing the way I (personally) want to travel- it may be important to others.

Also: The total land mass of Australia is approximately 3 and a half times that of the state of Texas. It's a surprisingly big island...just most of it is uninhabitable desert.