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feb 01

U.S.-Canada border: "May I see some I.D.?"

Starting yesterday, thanks to the Department of Homeland Security, all Americans will need more I.D. to re-enter the U.S. by car from Canada. (Until now, only a driver's license or birth certificate was required.)

You must now provide border agents with two forms of identification. (If you have a passport, you'll only need to show that.)

The two documents must be a proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, and a government-issued photo ID, like a driver's license. Details and fine print can be found at the State Department's website (travel.state.gov).

My wife and I went to Seattle last year, and took a side trip to Vancouver. We waited in line for over an hour at Customs. I wonder how much worse the lines will be if the border agents need to verify several documents now. (My wife and I sped through at the gate itself as we had our passports ready.)

A new rule is expected to go into effect by summer 2009. That rule is expected to require U.S. citizens present a passport or a passport card when crossing the Canadian border and when doing other land/sea border entries.

If you don't have a passport yet—and most of our fellow citizens don't—go to travel.state.gov for instructions and applications. The fee is $100, as of today..

Of course, a larger issue remains: Should you need a passport to visit Canada? Our blog readers recently posted more than 100 impassioned comments about this topic. Read the comments by clicking here, and feel free to chime in.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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