Online Registration Required for Visa Waiver Travelers

Starting four months from today – January 12, 2009 – online registration will be required by all visa waiver travelers entering the United States.

Have you heard about this?

I mean. Really heard about it?

I remember reading a blog post and a CNN article about it a few months ago when the announcement was made, but as a person this new law directly affects, well … I haven’t heard much.

It seems the old pen and paper approach is out-dated, antiquated, archaic.

“What does this mean,” you ask?

It means that in addition to getting drilled at customs upon entering our beloved country, our friends and allies must now register online at least 72 hours prior to flying into the US or they will be denied boarding.

The good news is that once a person is registered and approved the application is valid for two years. The other good news is that residents of visa waiver countries don’t have to wait until they have travel plans to apply.

My recommendation is for anyone who could possibly have to go to the US on a last-minute trip, such as the spouse or close relative of an American citizen, register early. Seventy-two hours is a long time to wait when there is an emergency.

What are your thoughts on this new process? Do you think it will help American security issues or do you think it is just more red tape for honest people to cut through?

Happy Travels and Have a Great Weekend!

La Buona Cucina Americana is baaaack! Check out Mary’s potato salad  and get to cooking moda americana, or head over to Alex’s for the dish on his La Cucina Italiana recipe contest!

7 Responses
  1. Thanks for the link, Cherrye.

    If you’re a U.S. citizen, this law *doesn’t* “directly affect” you — only your non-U.S. partner, neighbors, friends, etc.

    I’m sure we will start hearing more about it before too long — once people are missing flights because they didn’t follow the rules . . . Or when the system fails to implement properly, is breeched in a data attack, etc.

    Don’t know how the Italians feel about the U.S. crackdown on tourists, but here in Germany citizens are very disdainful of government control of their personal data and greatly mistrust U.S. fingerprinting procedures.

    Did you catch my post on a TSA regulation change that could actually affect you?
    TSA One Step Closer to Mandating ID for Domestic Flights
    I meant it “directly” affects me if there is a last-minute emergency in the US and my husband can’t go back with me. The only time we would fly last-minute would be in an emergency situation and who needs that added stress? I’m all about US security when it makes sense and is a well-conceived idea. But rules for rules sake is just frustrating!

  2. I think it is unbelievably stupid. Online registration? I can point at 60% of my area that would not even realize what that meant. Presumably they will also have to negotiate a site in English even if they figure out what it means.

    It will not stop one single crook or terrorist and will finish off the “Last Moment” travel sector for the US.
    What I don’t understand is WHY “they” don’t realize this??

  3. I’m not a fan. I doubt there is much it will accomplish other than hasseling the regular person, and won’t prevent people that really want to “sneak in” from doing that.

  4. I’m with Judith. I can’t imagine how anyone in my town would even know about this if one of the five of us with Internet connections didn’t tell them….
    I know, right? I imagine there will be information when you book your ticket, but if one TA forgets… ouch!

  5. Wow — I barely heard about this when the idea first started, and it’s really been barely in the news since. This definitely affects my parents visiting me from Switzerland (though that’s not planned for too soon). But also, I wonder how it affects me (green card holder, married to an american) — everything I just read on that was unclear and a little contradictory. Oh well — no travel is planned for me or my parents anytime soon. I honestly don’t know how these security measures will do in terms of being an effective net to catch a potential crook or terrorist. Instead, all the London and Paris dwellers who decide on Thursday morning they want dinner Friday night in New York (and shop all day Saturday and fly back Sunday) will stop being able to do that. And frankly, as a New Yorker, we need those tourists to survive what is going on with the city’s other main contributor to its economy, ie Wall Street.
    I don’t think it will catch any terrorists at all. I think it will only frustrate tourists…

  6. Oh, and I just read more stuff — this web-registration pre-supposes English language skills and computer literacy skills, not to mention internet access. Yes the later is getting prevalent everywhere, but still — that’s a huge burden to impose on non-citizens to respect a U.S. law. *bangs head against wall* Not only will this scare off tourists, but then there’s going to be an added layer of stress for anyone living there who has a relative visiting and there being anxiety over whether this will work. OK, off my soapbox. Thanks Cherrye for reminding me about this.
    Sure thing. I hear you on the frustration. I plan to get P to sign up ASAP for this in case we have to go home quickly or there is an emergency.

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