US Passport Alternatives

Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI, there are plenty of US passport alternatives  to cross the US border. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is a US initiative to secure borders and clampdown on identity document fraud. Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative travelers into the United States must present a valid identity document to prove their nationality and citizenship. The use of RFID technology and biometric data has enabled the WHTI to include identity documents to provide US passport alternatives. The following documents can be used as alternatives to US passports to prove identity and nationality at any US port of entry:

NEXUS Card

The NEXUS card can be used in place of a passport for travel across any US border by land, air or sea. Travelers must be preapproved by Customs and Border Protection and must provide fingerprints and if using the pass for air an iris scans. Conditionally approved NEXUS card applicants must attend a 30 minute interview. The NEXUS card is valid for 5 years. All passengers including infants using the NEXUS lane must hold a valid NEXUS card.

FAST Pass (land and sea travel only)

The FAST card is available to pre-approved truck drivers who meet the FAST card program criteria. Truckers must be preapproved by Customs and Border Protection and must provide fingerprints and attend a 30 minute interview. The FAST card is valid for 5 years and can be used for any land or sea crossing at any US border in any vehicle providing the applicant is not carrying non-FAST card members.

SENTRI Card (land and sea travel only)

The SENTRI card can be used in place of a passport for travel across any US border by land or sea. Travelers must be preapproved by Customs and Border Protection and must provide fingerprints and attend a 30 minute interview. The SENTRI card is valid for 5 years. All passengers including infants using the SENTRI lane must hold a valid SENTRI card.

SENTRI, NEXUS and FAST card all qualify for expedited travel across any US border through use of dedicated fast lanes.

US Passport Card

The US Passport Card can be used for entry into the US from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. It can be used for land, sea and air travel and it lasts for 10 years (5 years for children under 16).

Enhanced Drivers License (land and sea travel only)

The enhanced driver’s license contains biometric data in line with the WHTI. It is not issued by all US states – to date only New York, Vermont, Washington and Michigan issue the enhanced driver’s license. The license is only valid in place of a passport when travelling by land or sea.

 Native American Tribal Documents (land and sea travel only)

Native Americans can present Certificates of Indian Status will be able to continue presenting tribal documents provided they are affixed with a photo. The Native Indian Status certificate will only be valid for land travel.

Child’s Birth Certificate

Children aged 15 and under who are citizens of the United States or Canada can use their birth certificate in place of a passport when crossing the US Canada border. The child’s birth certificate must be an original copy or an original Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card. Children aged 18 and under traveling in a school or religious group, social or cultural organization, or a sports team can also present their original US or Canadian birth certificate. The group leader must also present a letter detailing information about the trip and passengers. Note: Adults may no longer travel into the US with only a birth certificate as proof of ID.

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