Papers required for border crossings

U.S. passport


Doug Krizner: For years, Americans and Canadians could travel across the border without documentation. Just declare your nationality to the border agent.
That changes today. A new rule requires U.S. and Canadian citizens to use a passport or a driver's license along with a birth certificate. There's a similar rule for Americans traveling to Mexico.

So how will these changes impact the border economy? From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.

Dan Grech: It can take hours to cross the southern border with Mexico. But the northern border was a different story. Customs agents took people's word for it. It took an average of 45 seconds to process a vehicle. Now, anyone without the proper documents may be turned away.

Angelo Amador: The whole perception is the United States is not a welcoming country. The motto seems to be: If you come, fine. And if you don't, even better.

Angelo Amador is with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He says the passport changes come at a time when the U.S. could use more Canadian tourists, not fewer.

Amador: A large sector of our economy depends on tourism, and I think it would be bad to continue damaging it.

To make things easier, starting tomorrow Americans can apply for a wallet-sized passport card to travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The cards will be ready by this spring.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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