Driving Across the Border? Bring Proof of Citizenship

Posted & filed under Car Insurance News.

It’s old news by now that American citizens must carry passports when flying to Mexico or Canada (or Bermuda and the Caribbean) by air, but were you aware that you have to have proof of citizenship when traveling in or out of the US from those places by land or sea as well? Effective January 31st, 2008 – you do.

With the new restrictions on travel within North America, knowing when you have to have a passport and when you don’t can be a little confusing. Certainly, life is easier if you have one, but if you do not, you can still travel to and from the United States, as long as you have a government-issued photo ID, and another form of documentation proving your citizenship. Recommended documents include your birth certificate or naturalization certificate (originals, not photocopies). If your name has changed due to marriage, you’ll want to bring your marriage license along as well.

Diana Meinhold of the Southern California Auto Club points out, “Identification requirements for travelers have been changing frequently in the last couple of years, and travelers need to stay aware of these changes so they bring the correct documents on their trips.”

Passports were originally going to be required for sea and land travel to Mexico and Canada this summer, but the government has pushed that back to 2009, when the smaller, less expensive “passport card,” a document allowing travel only to and from countries adjacent to the United States, will become available.

In addition to proof of citizenship and photo ID, travelers crossing the border via car (in either direction) are advised to make sure their automobile insurance will cover them in Mexico or Canada, or to purchase temporary insurance for the duration of their trip.