New Passport Rule

By Al Pefley email

West Palm Beach, FL (WFLX)

Starting today, June 1, is an important day in the travel business.

If you want to leave the country and travel in the western hemisphere,  including trips to Canada and Mexico, you now need a passport.

However, there's an exception.  And one south Florida travel agent says not a lot of people know about this. If you're traveling by cruise ship, leaving from a U.S.  port and then returning to the same U.S.  port when the cruise is over, you don't need a passport.

Such trips are called "closed loop" cruises, because they begin and end in the same U.S. city.

"In this economy, it's great news because passports are expensive and if you have a family, it's very expensive. So now you're still able to do a nice cruise out of the U.S. and be able to go," said Mary Hurley-Lane, owner of Eileen's Travel in West Palm Beach.

She says to take a "closed loop" cruise, you need a drivers license and proof of U.S. citizenship such as a voter I.D.   card or a certified birth certificate.   Again, that applies only to cruises that start and end in the same U.S. city.

For example, if you were to board the ship in Ft. Lauderdale, take the cruise, and then get off the ship in Ft. Lauderdale then you would not need a passport.   If you board the ship in one city, such as San Diego, and then at the end of the cruise you depart the ship in another city, say Miami, then a passport would be required.