Detroit — U.S. and Canadian children will be exempt from new rules that will require travelers to show passports when entering the U.S. at land or sea borders, a move the Bush administration said Thursday is aimed at helping families and school groups.
The new passport requirements will take effect as soon as January 2008. In a change from earlier plans, U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 15 or younger with parental consent will be allowed to cross the borders at land and sea entry points with certified copies of their birth certificates rather than passports.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff discussed the relaxation in rules at a speech Thursday to the Detroit Economic Club before touring the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, a link with Windsor, Ontario, under the Detroit River.
"This is going to make it a lot easier for kids to cross the border without having to get passports and passcards," Chertoff said. "By the way, it's specifically designed to make it cheaper for families."
U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 16 through 18 traveling with school, religious, cultural or athletic groups and under adult supervision also will be allowed to travel with only their birth certificates.
Beginning Jan. 23, nearly all air travelers entering the U.S. who are citizens of Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean - as well as returning American citizens - have been required to display passports. Children entering the United States by air still will be required to show passports.