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U.S. to require passports from Canadians


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WASHINGTON - By 2007, most Canadians will need a passport to enter the United States.

And by 2008, most Americans who visit Canada won't be able to re-enter their country without a passport.

The changes are part of border-security measures the United States will phase in over the next three years that are likely to have a major impact on U.S. tourism and even on the number of Americans who make short trips to Canada.

Canadians without a passport will be barred from entering the United States after Dec. 31, 2006, unless they have a special U.S. "laser visa" border crossing card that includes a fingerprint or other "biometric identifier" such as a retinal scan. Those cards are issued mostly to Mexicans who want to enter the U.S.

Currently, Canadians and Americans are able to enter the United States with little more identification than a driver's licence or a birth certificate, though a passport has sometimes made it simpler to satisfy immigration officers at the border.

The new rules will still allow Canadians to enter the United States without being fingerprinted. The U.S. demands a fingerprint from all other foreign visitors now.

The tighter security will be implemented first between the U.S. and Caribbean countries, then along the U.S.-Mexican border and finally between the U.S. and Canada.

It is likely to start at airports, then spread to land crossings.

The United States is also putting pressure on European countries to speed up introduction of new high-security passports containing a computer chip with a digital photograph.

If the new European Union passports are not in use by the end of October, the United States says it might remove the EU's visa-waiver status. Some analysts have said that could mean a loss of more than $10 million US to the U.S. travel industry.

Thankfully this won't apply to me ::

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I've always used a passport to cross the border... Not a big deal to me... Actually I think it is a good idea, in some respects... I work at a bar, and people all the time come in and bitch because they lost their license to a DUI and now they can't drink because they don't have their license... If they all had a passport, that is a valid ID that would allow them to drink, though not to drive...

And BP's here do not accept Passports as valid ID for beer or cigarettes... It's stupid... It's like the mother-of-all-ID's and they don't take it. Another reason why I don't go to BP for ANYTHING anymore... Bastards...

From another perspective, put more passports out into people's hands, and you have... More opportunity for theft/forgery of passports... Way to go Homeland Security... Really thought that one through, didn'tcha...


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