This applies not only to Canadians traveling to the U. S., but also to U.S. travellers returning TO the U.S. -- see U.S. Dept of State:
On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document.That's only 10 months from now, and those who do not already have passports and are over the age of 15 could find themselves caught up in a flurry of applications come next spring.
The U.S. requires passports before entry for air travellers (see earlier posts about passports to enter United States and U.S. passport update) and had kept moving back the date for land crossings.
Now the date has been set, and likely it will affect Canadians most of all, as many of us live close to the U.S. border -- Niagara Falls - Buffalo, Windsor - Detroit, Vancouver - Bellingham, among many others. We cross to go shopping, or take in an NFL or major league ball game, or head south as Snow Birds each winter.
Frequent border crossers can still use the NEXUS card (see Canadian Border Services Agency) as a travel document, and Canadians age 15 and under can still use a birth certificate or citizenship card as a valid travel document.
If you don't have a passport, and if you anticipate crossing by land, get one sooner than later to avoid the rush next spring. Canadians should refer to Passport Canada.
If you already have a passport, note the expiry date, as most customs and border crossings and entry points like to see passports valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry.
For tips on how to back up your travel documents, see my travel documents tips page.