As of June 1, the U.S. Department of State will be requiring any person wishing to enter the United States to show a passport or a passport card.
Until then, Department of State officials are on a national tour to inform the public about why it is important to get a passport, where they can obtain a passport and what they will not be able to do if they do not get a passport by June 1.
On Wednesday, March 25, and Thursday, March 26, the New Hampshire division of the National Passport Center sent two passport specialists, Korrie Wedel, 24, and Melissa Hawkins, 27, to the Albany International Airport to help spread the word about the new travel regulations, which they say will include travel by land, sea and air.
In a discussion with The Spotlight, Wedel and Hawkins answered a few questions about the new rules.
Question: Why did you guys come to Albany on your national tour?
Answer: (Hawkins) To get the public informed. As of June 1, 2009, a passport will be needed from any entry to get back into the United States.
Q: When did the need for these regulations begin?
A: (Hawkins) It was implemented Jan. 1, 2007. It started just for travel on land and by sea with Phase 1. Now, June 1, we are moving to Phase 2, which includes everything land, sea and air.
(Wedel) It had a lot to do with 9/11.
Q: Will you need a passport to leave the United States also?
A: (Hawkins) Every country is different, but this is just to get back into the United States.
Q: Why did the Department of State come out with a card that does the same thing a passport does?
A: (Hawkins) People who travel regularly, like into Canada, might not want to put a lot of money into renewing a passport, and that's why they came out with the card.