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New Border Crossing Cards starting Feb 1, 2008

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Border crossing cards available soon

John Myers Duluth News Tribune

Published Friday, January 11, 2008

New, wallet-sized U.S. passport cards that will allow U.S. travelers to return from Mexico and Canada by land without a full-blown passport soon will be available from the State Department.

Applications for the cards will be accepted starting Feb. 1. They will cost $45, about half the cost of a passport.

While there has been considerable confusion over new border crossing regulations, President Bush signed legislation last month that delays the need for passports or passport cards for land travel to Mexico and Canada until at least June 2009.

Front and back views of the new passport card. Starting Jan. 31, the card, or a birth certificate and a driver's license, will be required for land crossings between the U.S. and Canada. [sUBMITTED PHOTOS]

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At that point, either passports or passport cards probably will be required to re-enter the U.S. by land. Passports already are required for air travel.

Birth certificates and a driver’s license or similar photo identification card will be required of all people entering the U.S. starting Jan. 31. Passports or passport cards can be used instead of a birth certificate at any time.

The new passport cards will not be accepted for air travel.

Children carrying a birth certificate still will be allowed to cross the border without a passport or passport card if they are traveling with their parents or in a school or civic group.

U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has been working to convince the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to find a cheaper, easier alternative to passports for Minnesotans traveling to and from Canada.

Border crossing agents will scan the cards and the information will appear on their computer screens.

“This secure, wallet-sized card, which will be half as expensive as a regular passport, is certainly a better option than a full-scale passport for many of our border residents,” Coleman said in a statement. “Also, by making the card available starting this year, I am hopeful that we will not see a repeat of the passport problems that plagued the State Department last year.”

For more information, go to the State Department’s Web site at: http://www.travel.state.gov/pdf/WHTI_Passport_Sheet.pdf

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