US eases June 1 passport restrictions

If you're considering travel to Skagway and don't have a passport, don't worry 'bout it. Not yet, anyway. Amid the current financial crisis, the US has backed off enforcing passport rules at the border, for a little while.

If you’re considering travel to Skagway and don’t have a passport, don’t worry ‘bout it.

Not yet, anyway.

Amid the current financial crisis, the US has backed off enforcing passport rules at the border, for a little while.

The US Customs and Border Protection Agency is now committed to a “flexible and practical” implementation of the June 1 document requirements for travellers at all land and sea ports of entry, it announced on Thursday.

That is, it is relaxing the demand that everybody crossing the border needs to present a passport.

“We’re cognizant that it’s the summer travel season,” said Joanne Ferreira, public affairs officer for the US Customs and Border Protection Agency.

“It’s simple, they don’t want to lose the business of Canadian tourists,” said Yukon MP Larry Bagnell.

All Canadians without proper documentation will have guaranteed entry across the border, but people without a passport may face delays.

“This is great news,” said Bagnell. “All the people in the Haines bike relay who were worried they couldn’t race will now be able to cross the border.”

Even though restrictions have been relaxed, the Customs and Border Protection Agency is encouraging Canadians to get proper documentation in the meantime.

People crossing the border without required documentation will be recorded so that border officials have it on file, said Bagnell.

“The idea is that if you come across the border several more times without a passport they can say, ‘Look, we’ve already told you that you should be getting the proper documents.’”

The Customs and Border Protection Agency has not said how long these relaxed rules will remain in place.

The United States introduced border restrictions two years ago following recommendations from the 9/11 Commission.

The restrictions have been a nuisance to Canadians since they were introduced.

“We’ve been pushing the US government for years saying how much these passport restrictions will hurt tourism,” said Bagnell.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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