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Cross U.S. Borders

Documentation is essential to ensuring a problem-free U.S. border crossing. Every traveler must take the initiative to determine which documents are needed for them to enter the United States via land, sea, or air based upon their citizenship or place of residence.

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U.S. Citizens

  • By Air: All U.S. citizens including children must present a passport or other approved travel document when entering the United States.
  • By Land or Sea: U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry are required to have documents that comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), most commonly a U.S. passport, a passport card, a trusted traveler card  or an enhanced driver's license.

Lawful Permanent Residents

  • By Air: All travelers including children must present a passport or secure travel document when entering the United States.
  • By Land or Sea: Lawful permanent residents may continue to present their Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card.

Citizens from Other Countries

  • By Air: All international visitors regardless of country of origin must present a passport or secure document when entering the United States. US-VISIT biometric procedures apply to international travelers holding a non-U.S. passport or visa with these limited exceptions.
  • By Land or Sea: Different documentation is needed based upon the country of citizenship. Travelers should check whether they qualify under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) or US-VISIT.
  • If they don’t qualify for WHTI or US-VISIT, international travelers entering the United States should consult CBP’s information for international visitors for required documentation.

Tips

Be prepared and always have your documentation readily available for border security checkpoints. It will shorten your transit time and help CBP agents do their job efficiently.

Travelers should also know there are a range of Trusted Traveler Programs available through U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the Western Hemisphere. These programs provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low risk travelers through dedicated lanes.

  • NEXUS provides expedited travel via land, air or sea to approved members between the U.S. and Canada border.
  • SENTRI provides expedited travel to approved members between the U.S. and Mexico border.
  • FAST provides expedited travel to approved commercial truck drivers between the U.S and Canada and U.S. and Mexico borders.
  • Global Entry provides expedited screening and processing for pre-screened International travelers entering the United States.
Last Published Date: July 23, 2013
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