Many people can probably recall the travel requirements in place before Sept. 11, 2001. Once upon a time, one could cross between Canada, the United States and Mexico and other Western countries with little or no documentation. Today, such travel is prohibited without a passport and a birth certificate.

Required for all points of entry

In 2004, the 9/11 Commission, a group charged with investigating the incidents surrounding the attacks and making recommendations for change, recommended that U.S. border crossing rules were too lax. As a result, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was passed by Congress. It requires a passport for everyone crossing any U.S. border. In subsequent years, the rule was expanded to both land and sea borders as well as those entering by air.

Age requirements

The age requirements changed as well. All U.S. and Canadian border-crossers can still enter and exit without a passport. However, those aged 19 and older, must produce a valid government-issued identification and a birth certificate before they are allowed to cross. Those 18 and under need only produce a birth certificate. Those of all ages from Bermuda and Mexico must produce a passport, visa or border-crossing card.

Fee requirements

Passport fees were increased by $3 for all passports. This includes expedited and children's passports as well.

Passport Card

The passport card was revealed in February of 2008 and available for sale in July of the same year. It is the shape of a credit card and serves the same purpose as a passport. It is more convenient to carry. The passport card is only accepted at U.S. land and sea borders. If traveling outside of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, you must have a passport book.