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Using New Embedded Travel Documents

New technology helps travelers cross US-Canadian border faster

eTN Staff Writer  May 30, 2009

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has posted a video on its Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) web site ( to show US and Canadian citizens travelers how to benefit most from their new WHTI-compliant documents.

Many of the new travel documents that comply with WHTI are embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology‚ÄĒpassport cards; enhanced driver‚Äôs licenses; and NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST cards. These cards can be read automatically when travelers enter the United States, making border crossing even more efficient. The next generation of Border Crossing Cards, for use by Mexican citizens to enter the US border area to visit and shop, also are RFID-enabled.

The video shows travelers the simple steps to follow as they approach a US land port of entry with their RFID-enabled travel card:

- Stop at the entry to the inspection lane and wait for a signal to move forward.

- Each passenger removes his or her travel card from its protective sleeve and holds it up, with the flat front face of the card toward a window on the driver’s side. The RFID-enabled cards will be read automatically while the vehicle proceeds to the inspection booth.

- Stop at the inspection booth, and be prepared to present documents for all travelers in the vehicle to the CBP officer.

WHTI-compliant, RFID-enabled documents help reduce the time it takes to process travelers at the border. No personal identification information is stored on the RFID chip embedded in the cards ‚Äď only a series of ones and zeros that points to information in a secure CBP database. We encourage travelers to store their cards in the protective sleeve provided with the document to protect them from being read without their knowledge.

As part of the June 1 implementation of WHTI, CBP has installed RFID reader technology in over 350 lanes at 39 ports of entry on the northern and southern borders to help streamline border crossings. These 39 ports process more than 95 percent of land border traffic.

To help travelers learn how to use their RFID-enabled cards, CBP is distributing tear sheets at land ports of entry, posting instructions on, and providing a link to an instructional video at

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is the joint Department of Homeland Security-Department of State program that implements a key 9/11 Commission recommendation and congressional mandate to establish document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the US, Canada, and Bermuda. WHTI document requirements for air travel went into effect in 2007.

New technology helps travelers cross US-Canadian border faster
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