Travel Alerts for 2009

Planning ahead, here are some changes in travel for 2009. Some only apply to US citizens, but some to others as well.

Currently: ALL PERSONS traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.
2009: On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document. Note: The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.

EU Airlines: The European Parliament approved a “transparency” law mandating that airfares have to include all taxes, fees and charges added to the basic ticket price and known at the time of publication. It should take effect either later this year or at the beginning of 2009. This is meant to avoid unpleasant surprises when shopping around for a ticket within Europe or to Europe. Under the rule, airfare or air rate, taxes, airport charges and other charges, surcharges or fees, such as those related to security or fuel, have to be included in the price of the ticket.

Visas going to the US: The Department of Homeland Security’s new Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will become mandatory on January 12, 2009. It’s a fully-automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. Currently, 27 countries’ citizens can travel to the US for 90 days without a Visa for tourism, but not business or work.

If you need a passport, apply early. Due to the backlog, delays can be months long.