Traveling up north? Be ready
The trek to Canada for a fishing trip now comes with an extra catch - a different credential.
In less than a week, tougher border rules take effect for travelers headed across the border.
Prompted by tighter, broader regulations after 9/11, most Americans already needed a passport to fly across the border. Now, starting June 1, you'll need a passport if traveling across the border by land or sea.
"It will make it more efficient and secure," Chris Misson, a spokesman with the port of entry in Pembina, N.D., said about the border.
North Dakotans and Minnesotans returning from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean or Bermuda can show passports, Trusted Traveler cards or passport cards, a new type of document that the United States began issuing last year.
Exceptions to the requirements include U.S. and Canadian children younger than 16 who will only need proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate.
But for local residents in need of proper credentials, it may be a scramble.
At the U.S. Postal Service on Main Avenue in Fargo, Laurine Roehrich says they're seeing a steady flow of people seeking passports. But the increase in need for passports nationally in the past couple of months is causing delays.
What once took three or four weeks now takes four to six weeks because of the increase in demand, she said.
Luckily, for procrastinators, a new passport office that can issue travel documents on the spot has opened in downtown Minneapolis - a quicker trek than the previous option of traveling to Chicago for an emergency passport.
The Minneapolis office is for U.S. citizens who have urgent or emergency travel needs. If you don't want to trek to the Twin Cities, you can fork over more money to expedite a passport in about two weeks.
While the new passport cards can't be expedited, Roehrich said the upside to the new forms of ID is "it's probably handier if you want to carry it in your wallet."
Plus, they're cheaper.
A passport, which can be used for flying or driving across the border, costs $75 at the post office, Roehrich said. A passport card, which can only be used for driving across the border, costs $20. Both include processing fees - $25 at the post office - and fees to take a passport photo.
Go to http://iafdb.travel.
state.gov to find out where you can get a passport.
The good news: If you don't get a passport or passport card by June 1, you don't have to nix your trip, Misson said. "We're not going to deny U.S. citizens entry."