Traveling? Take Your Passport. And ID Card. And Driver's License. And Birth Certificate . . .

America's borders are tighter today and your employees are going to need additional documentation when crossing land and sea borders with Mexico, Canada and Bermuda.

U.S. citizens who leave the country and reenter at any of the land borders or sea ports now need proof of citizenship. An oral declaration of citizenship will no longer be sufficient. Travelers will be asked to present a government-issued ID, such as a driver's license, and proof of citizenship, such as birth certificate or passport.

The Department of Homeland Security is taking these measures to close a security gap and make it easier for border patrol and customs agents to detain suspected illegal aliens or terrorists.

Keep in mind, however, that the land and sea entry rules are now in a transitional stage. Travelers who do not have the appropriate documents may be delayed while Customs and Border Protection agents attempt to verify their citizenship and identity. They will not necessarily be detained or denied entry.

They will also be given an informational sheet explaining the new procedures. The intent of this transition is to raise awareness of the change, educate travelers and allow ample time for travelers to obtain the necessary documents.

The transitional period will last for approximately 18 months, at which time the Departments of Homeland Security and State will implement the requirement for secure travel documents under the congressionally mandated Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

These new rules do not affect documentation requirements for cross-border air travel. Identification restrictions for air travel--similar to the ones recently enacted for land and sea travel--went into effect in January 2007.

The earliest that implementation of the new land and sea rules could occur would be June 2009.

We anticipate that when the rules are implemented, there will be a number of other identification options available to travelers. Contact any member of the Immigration Practice Group at Warner Norcross & Judd to explore NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST cards, enhanced driver's licenses, tribal cards and U.S. passport cards, or for clarification of how the new rules might affect your company.

For additional information, please contact Kathleen M. Hanenburg, 616.752.2151 or khanenburg@wnj.com, or Angela M. Jenkins, 616.752.2480 or ajenkins@wnj.com of the Immigration Law Group at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.