The U.S. government’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative has impacted travel by Canadians to the U.S. The question is whether the passport requirement portion of the law has been as disruptive to Canadians traveling to the U.S. as once was feared.
As of June 1 all travelers presenting themselves at U.S. border points have been required to present a specific document to enter the U.S., such as a passport or a limited type of high-tech identification card (such as NEXUS or FAST or an enhanced driver’s license).
But it appears Canadians have made the necessary preparations. Passport Canada reported a significant increase in the number of passport applications last year, and expects to issue 5.1 million new passports this year. Last year, 4.3 million were issued by Passport Canada. Presumably the increase is in part a response to the new rules.
There are also some exceptions to the passport rules for school age children. Canadian citizens 15 years or younger will only require proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate), and the same is true if 18 and younger, provided they are traveling with a school or organized group under adult supervision.
Although no significant disruptions on the Canadian border have been reported, the U.S. Northern border states have been worried about the effect of the potential chilling effect of the initiative on commerce and Canadian tourism.
The Arizona Republic reported on a recent meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona. The lawmakers implored her to make sure new passport requirements don’t get in the way of French-Canadian grandparents crossing the U.S.- Canadian border to visit their grandchildren.
The heightened interest in the impact of the rule reflects that border security and immigration legislation, previously only associated with the border with Mexico, is now also effecting the Canadian entry points. As a result, lawmakers far from Arizona are taking a new interest in border issues. Napolitano calls treating the northern boundary as “a real border” for the first time a big “culture change” for the North.
But although the new rules may be a surprise to U.S. citizens, Canadians, and their travels to the U.S., seem largely unaffected. Canadians are more sophisticated travelers in general, and for many years have taken for granted the necessity of having a passport to travel, due in part to their fondness for international travel.
The metropolitan Phoenix and Scottsdale area real estate markets have not felt any lessening of Canadian investment here that could be attributed to anything other than market conditions. For one thing, most travelers to our state are arriving by plane, and the rules for airline travel have always been stricter than entry into the U.S. by land. Second, it would appear to be impossible to identify a negative impact to, or in anticipation of, the passport requirement, on a non-Canadian border state such as Arizona. Further, Canadian investment here remains strong (more on that in a future blog), and we here at SimplySOLD expect that to continue whatever rules are in place.
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