Detroit - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Detroit Field Office reminds travelers planning trips across the border to have their approved travel documents and to anticipate heavy traffic during the celebration of the Canadian Thanksgiving and U.S. Columbus Day holiday next Monday, Oct. 11.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, implemented on June 1, 2009, requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older to present a valid, WHTI-approved travel document when entering the U.S. by land or sea. WHTI-compliant documents include a passport, U.S. passport card, enhanced driver's licenses (EDLs) or a Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST).
CBP strongly encourages travelers to obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled travel document such as a U.S. Passport Card, Enhanced Driver's License/Enhanced Identification Card or Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST/EXPRES) to expedite their entry and make crossing the border more efficient.
WHTI-compliant, RFID-enabled documents help reduce the time it takes to process travelers at the border. No personal identification information is stored on the RFID chip embedded in the cards - only a series of ones and zeros that points to information in a secure CBP database.
WHTI document requirements for air travel have been in effect since January 2007.
U.S. lawful permanent residents are reminded that their I-551 form (green card) is acceptable for land and sea travel into the U.S.
With the holiday weekend, travelers should expect increased traffic at border crossings and are reminded of a few simple steps they can employ when crossing the border.
Tip #1 - Travelers should familiarize themselves with the "Know Before You Go" section of the CBP Web site to avoid fines and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items.
Tip #2 - Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Travelers should have their crossing documents available for inspection and should be prepared to declare all items acquired abroad.
Tip #3 - Members of the traveling public should consult the CBP Web site to monitor border wait times at ports of entry. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light traffic/short waits.
Tip #4 - During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative, less heavily traveled entry routes.
Tip #5 - Travelers should plan to build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic like holiday weekends.
Tip #6 - Know the difference between goods for personal use vs. commercial use.
Tip #7 -Do not attempt to bring fruits, meats, dairy/poultry products and firewood into the United States from Canada without first checking whether they are permitted.
Tip #8 - Understand that CBP officers have the authority to conduct enforcement examinations without a warrant, ranging from a simple luggage examination up to and possibly including a personal search.
WHTI is the joint Department of State-Department of Homeland Security plan that implemented a key 9/11 Commission recommendation to establish document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda.