Are you planning an event in Toronto this year? A Vancouver event? Or, are you are hosting a meeting or seminar that will have attendees from a Canadian locale? If you have cross-border meetings in your future (whether your attendees will be traveling out of the United States and back or coming in to the country), you need to know about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which will alter the current requirements for entering (or re-entering) the United States.
A result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the WHTI initiative requires U.S. and Canadian travelers to present a passport or other WHTI-approved document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the United States. Already in effect for air travelers, it will go into effect for land and sea travelers June 1, 2009.
What counts as an acceptable document? Passports are the best option to advise your meeting attendees to purchase. It's the only document that is valid for air travel and for travel to non-WHTI countries (Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean). Or, you can opt for a passport card, a less expensive option whose specialized ID chip can be read quickly. The enhanced driver's license, which is state-issued, is a similar choice. However, they are currently available only to residents of New York, Vermont and Washington.
Keep in mind that both passport cards and enhanced driver's licenses are valid only for land and sea crossings within WHTI countries. Also remember to check each foreign countries' entry rules, which may differ.
Planning an international event can be an overwhelming process. Make it easier for yourself (and your attendees!) by keeping up-to-date on entry and exit requirements. A little research now will avoid big problems in the future and help your global affair go off without a hitch!
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