For U.S. medical meeting planners with upcoming events in neighboring countries, there are new rules to consider. The U.S. State Department has issued a rule proposing the development of an affordable passport card that can be used in lieu of a passport for travel by U.S. citizens through land and sea — but not air — ports of entry between the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

Congress recently extended a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative deadline, making June 1, 2009, the new date by which people traveling via land or sea from the above destinations must show a passport or other acceptable document in order to enter or re-enter the U.S. Air travelers from these destinations will need a traditional passport to enter the country starting January 8, 2007.

The State Department's rule proposes a wallet-sized card that would cost $10 for children and $20 for adults, as well as a $25 implementation fee. According to the State Department, the card itself would not contain any personal information, but would include RFID technology to link the card to a secure government database containing biographical information and a photograph.