Q: What is a passport? Top
A: A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave foreign countries. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to issue or verify United States passports. However, the Westchester County Clerk's Office is a designated passport acceptance facility and can assist you in obtaining your passport.
Q: Why do I need a passport? Top
A: Passports have been, and will continue to be, one of the most recognizable and generally accepted forms of identification. However, in addition to being a credible form of identification, passports are now required for travel outside of the United States including to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada where in the past state-issued identification and a birth certificate may have been sufficient.
Q: What does the new law require? Top
A: For many years U.S. citizens, and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere including Canadians, have not been required to present a passport or other specific form of secure identification to enter the United States. Instead, a wide variety of less secure documentation has historically been accepted. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that travelers to the United States have a passport or other secure, accepted document to re-enter the United States. On January 23, 2007, this requirement was applied to all air travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. As of June 2009, this requirement was extended to all land border crossings and sea travel.
Q: Will this requirement apply to travel between the United States and Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands? Top
A: The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will not affect travel between the United States and its territories. U.S. citizens traveling between the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa will continue to be able to use established forms of identification to board flights and for entry.
Q: Who can help me apply for a United States Passport? Top
A: The Westchester County Clerk's Office has trained, knowledgeable staff who are committed to helping you through your application process. You should feel free to call our office at (914)995-3086 or visit our office Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. In order for our office to provide you with the best service possible, all applicants must arrive at our office by 4:30 p.m. We look forward to assisting you.