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US Again Revises Passport Requirements for Western Hemisphere Travel

The Bush administration is postponing regulations for U.S. citizens traveling in the Western Hemisphere by land or sea.

The regulations call for travelers to show a valid U.S. passport in order to re-enter the country from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The mandate, known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, was set to take effect on 1 January 2008.

But the administration announced Wednesday that it was delaying the new regulations for at least six months. Instead, travelers can show government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's license, and a birth certificate.

The delay is prompted by an increasing backlog of U.S. passport applications since January 2007, when similar regulations went into effect for air travelers. The delays prompted angry applicants to complain to their congressional representatives.

The administration suspended the passport rules for U.S. air travelers earlier this month. The suspension will last until September.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.