Do you carry a passport with you every time you fly your aircraft to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda? Starting January 8, you might have to do just that if a proposal by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection goes through.
AOPA has requested that the bureau delay that action to allow the association more time to educate GA pilots about the requirement.
"Pilots who use their birth certificate and government-issued photo ID or other acceptable proof of citizenship to travel to these countries with little advance notice for business or pleasure wouldn't be able to do so if they didn't already have a passport," said Rob Hackman, AOPA director of security and regulatory affairs. "This isn't necessary for GA pilots - we already comply with numerous procedures that enhance security when crossing the border, such as giving advance notice, face-to-face meetings with Customs agents, filing a flight plan, and talking to ATC."
The proposal is the first part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative required by an act of Congress in 2004. It mandates that by 2009, everyone, whether traveling to these areas by land, sea, or air, carry a passport. Customs and Border Protection is enacting the requirement for air and sea crossings (except pleasure boats) one year earlier than the remaining areas of land crossings and pleasure boats.
AOPA wants the same justification given for the delay for pleasure boating applied to GA because of the similarities of how the two are used. On Wednesday, federal lawmakers pushed back the deadline for pleasure boaters to June 2009.
September 28, 2006