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'OZ' - The 'Other' Side of the Rainbow: Few problems as new passport rule starts today

'OZ' - The 'Other' Side of the Rainbow

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Few problems as new passport rule starts today

Canadians flying to the U.S. on Tuesday seemed to have little problem adjusting to a new passport requirement, thanks to months of advance warning.

Out of 3,500 U.S.-bound travellers at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, less than 10 didn't have the personal document.

And at Toronto's busy Pearson International Airport, businessman Terry Queeley sawCanadian Passport nothing wrong in needing his passport to board a flight to Baltimore.

"With everything that the world is doing these days, it doesn't really bother me," he told The Canadian Press.

"We have our own Canadian passport, so why not use it?"

The new requirement, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the State Department's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, officially began Tuesday morning.

All air travellers now need to present a valid passport to enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America.

Transport authorities are also accepting high-tech NEXUS Air cards used by frequent travellers.

The passport requirement will extend to those travelling by land as early as next year, but officials on both sides of the border are still urging the U.S. not to rush.

"We are still encouraging the U.S. to take all of the necessary time required to get this right," Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., told a crowd at Toronto's Empire Club on Monday.

He added that the Western Travel Initiative risks harming economic ties between Canada and the U.S. by complicating cross-border traffic.




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