WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today that it will launch the next phase of a national television, print and online advertising campaign during tomorrow’s National Football League Â© season kickoff game, to educate the public about new travel document requirements that will go into effect on June 1, 2009 under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
«Since the time WHTI was first announced, we have taken seriously our obligation to inform travelers of the change in procedures,» CBP Assistant Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski said. «We will continue our efforts to remind travelers who don’t already have a document that they still have time to obtain one in advance of the June 2009 compliance date. The agency is committed to implementing WHTI in a common sense, flexible way that facilitates the flow of legitimate travelers and improves the security of our borders.»
WHTI is the joint Department of State and Department of Homeland Security plan that implements a 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. This phase of CBP’s WHTI outreach efforts will include: a two-month schedule of national advertising on television, in magazines, and on the Web; public service announcements; the launch of a new Web site (www.GetYouHome.gov) and interactive widget; and distribution of collateral and compliance-related information through the media and various travel stakeholders.
On June 1, 2009, travelers will need to present a valid, acceptable document that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. by land or sea. Most travelers will be able to select from one of six different documentation options, based upon their individual travel needs. Many U.S. and Canadian travelers already have a passport or another WHTI-compliant document. WHTI was implemented for air travelers in January 2007.
In addition to a passport, there are several other documents that CBP will accept at land and sea ports of entry from U.S. and Canadian citizens coming from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean. These include the new U.S. Passport Card, new state/province-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, and the three CBP trusted traveler program cards (NEXUS SENTRI, and FAST).
All these documents utilize radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. Among the U.S. Passport or the five RFID-enabled cards, travelers can select the documentation option that best fits their needs. Details on each of these options are available at www.GetYouHome.gov.
By incorporating RFID technology into WHTI-compliant documents, the border-crossing process will be more efficient and effective. RFID is a secure technology that captures a unique identifier — a randomly assigned number — from the document just as the traveler approaches the border inspection station. No personal data is contained or transmitted by the RFID cards; the numerical identifier serves only as a pointer to gather information from CBP’s secure network for the officer.
The Department of Homeland Security published a privacy impact assessment on the use of RFID in travel documents in January 2008, and another in July 2008 on border crossing processes. Both are available at www.dhs.gov.