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Travel Requirements

Scientific personnel joining the vessel or departing the vessel in a foreign port are responsible for providing their own passports and obtaining required visas for the countries through which they will be traveling. They are also responsible for obtaining inoculations and the associated records required for entry into foreign countries and return to the United States.

If you are to join a vessel in a foreign port, be sure to check with the embassy or consulate of that country if there is any doubt about required paperwork (visa, medical records, etc.) and what items may be taken into that country.

If you are carrying scientific material, be sure to have the required documents from your Institution stating what the articles are and their intended use and meet the proper export regulations. Your Institution’s Shipping Department should be able to assist you with this.

Foreign-made personal items, such as cameras, radios and tape recorders should be registered with U.S. Customs before leaving the United States. The purpose is to verify to United States Customs upon re-entry that the article was in your possession when you left, and therefore not subject to duty.

Science personnel leaving the vessel in a foreign port for return to the U.S. may not leave personal effects aboard unless permission of the Master has been given. In no case shall dutiable goods be left behind on the vessel. You may be called upon by customs officials anywhere to provide a valid prescription for any drugs in your possession. Be prepared to do this.

WARNING -- Be sure your customs declaration is complete and accurate. Smuggling is a serious charge and both you and the Master of the vessel could be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State to develop and implement a plan to require all travelers, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike, to present a passport or other document, or a combination of documents, that denote identity and citizenship when entering the United States.  Congress amended portions of the Act in 2006.  The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is the Administration’s proposed plan to implement this mandate.

  • January 23, 2007 - ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable.
  • January 1, 2008 - ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

This is a change from prior travel requirements and will affect all United States citizens entering the United States from countries within the Western Hemisphere who do not currently possess valid passports. This new requirement will also affect certain foreign nationals who currently are not required to present a passport to travel to the United States. Most Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and to a lesser degree, Mexican citizens will be affected by the implementation of this requirement.