If you've applied for a U.S. passport to fly to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda but don't think you'll receive it in time for the trip, don't worry. You can keep your plans.
The U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security have temporarily eased the new passport requirement under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
As long as you've applied for a passport and can provide official proof of the application from the State Department, you can fly without the passport. [ Get your official "proof of application" online.] The State Department and DHS will permit the proof of application in lieu of the passport until September 30, 2007. After that time, you must have your passport.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was mandated by Congress in 2004 and went into effect January 23, 2007. It requires U.S. citizens traveling by air outside the United States to carry a passport.
Since that requirement went into effect, the number of passport applications has increased dramatically, according to the departments. The increased demand has created longer processing times: 10 to 12 weeks for standard processing and two to three weeks for expedited.
AOPA recommends that you allow ample time to receive your passport before any planned flights outside the United States.
For more information and to track the status of your passport application, visit the State Department's travel Web site.
June 12, 2007