The US Department of Homeland Security, perhaps not unexpectedly
, proposed a change in passport rules affecting minor student travelers which is now in effect: while those over 18 must begin presenting passports at land and sea
border crossings between Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the US in 2009
, 15-under U.S. citizen children are to be exempt from the new requirement and are allowed to present ID and the original or copy of their birth certificate, or other proof of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card, and 16-18 year olds will be exempt (and able to present ID and proof of citizenship instead of passports) if
traveling with public or private school groups, religious groups, social or cultural organizations or teams associated with youth athletics organizations and under adult supervision. Children over 16 must have passports or PASS cards or enhanced driver's licenses.
Currently (and historically), US citizens under 18 may cross land and sea borders to and from the affected countries while bearing only a government-issued ID (like a driver's license) and proof of citizenship (like a US birth certificate) but must carry passports for air travel entry into the US. US territories are exempted from new passport rules that became effective January 23, 2007 requiring passports from those traveling by air.
The proposed teen passport exemption will eventually be open for public comment as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative at www.regulations.gov.
If you're way under 18, like under 14, then read up on what to do (with your parents) on the US government's passport site.
Please go on to the next page to read about PASS cards and passport substitutes.