Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday, January 23, 2007), all U.S. citizens need a passport to reenter the United Sates through an airport. The important change in the regulations is that you now need a passport if you are returning from Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean. Previously a Government-issued photo ID and a birth certificate indicating your were born in the United States was all that was needed.
It is interesting to note that the new U.S. Passport regulations come at a time when the European Union has practically removed all restrictions when traveling between EU countries.
The United States new passport requirements have received criticism. Some think it is a National ID Card and a violation of Constitutional rights while others view it as a hidden tax on travel. Whatever you think, the regulation goes into effect tomorrow and you don't want to be detained by U.S. Immigration authorities.
Here is the official regulation:
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) aims to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized, secure and reliable documentation that allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to quickly, reliably and accurately identify a traveler.
You can visit the State Department’s travel Web site (travel.state.gov) or call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 for information about applying for a passport. The cost is about $100 and your new passport is valid for 10 years.