About the Author: Trip Atkins serves at the Seattle Passport Agency in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Thousands of athletes, Olympic officials, world leaders, and spectators will soon pour into the Pacific Northwest for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. Excitement on the U.S. side of the border is increasing as the proximity to an Olympic Winter Game focuses attention on the area and gives local residents a rare opportunity to actually attend the competitions and root on Team USA. A number of U.S. Olympians live and train in the Northwest, giving the Games a local feel.
State and local governments expect many Vancouver 2010 visitors to cross the border and visit the United States before, during, and after the Games. The Seattle Passport Agency works closely with the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure smooth cross-border traffic for the visitors before and during the Games.
If you are planning on traveling to Canada for the Olympic Winter Games or for other reasons, you should be aware of recent changes to border-crossing requirements implemented as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) earlier this year. Anyone planning travel to Canada needs a passport book, passport card, or other WHTI-compliant travel document to re-enter the United States.
Air passengers must carry a valid passport book. Travelers by land or sea may use a U.S. passport book, passport card, or other acceptable document. A list of acceptable documents may be found at www.travel.state.gov. This website also includes information on how and where to apply for a U.S. passport book or passport card, U.S. entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens, useful tips for travelers attending the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and links to sites with information on everything from Canadian entry requirements to border crossing wait times.
U.S. citizens may apply for a U.S. passport book or passport card at more than 9,000 locations around the country. Currently, processing times for routine applications are four to six weeks from the time of application and two to three weeks for expedited applications, so apply now if you haven't already!
To help facilitate travel to the Games, the Seattle Passport Agency hosted a special "Passport Day" on January 16th and December 5th to accept both expedite and routine passport book and passport card applications. Over 450 people came into the Seattle Passport Agency to apply for a passport on these two occasions. Olympic travel information, including links to the Seattle Passport Agency hours, fees, documentary requirements, and directions may be found here.
Take care of your travel documents now and enjoy a safe, hassle-free Olympic experience!