REMINDER: NO PASSPORT REQUIRED TO USVI

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Destination Celebrates 90 Years as a U.S. Territory

U.S. citizens are reminded they are exempt from needing a passport for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands when the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) by the Homeland Security and State Department goes into effect on January 23.

In fact, there’s no better time to travel to St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas than this year, when the destination celebrates its 90th anniversary as a U.S. Territory.

“As the passport initiative goes into effect, we are reminded that the U.S. Virgin Islands is indeed America’s Caribbean,” according to a press release from the V.I. Department of Tourism. “This is a monumental year for the destination, and we look forward to welcoming visitors to share in the excitement with the added ease and convenience of not needing a passport.”

On March 31, 1917, the Danish government officially transferred ownership of the approximately 50 islands and cays known then as the Danish West Indies to the United States, formally establishing the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Throughout 2007, visitors will have opportunities to participate in commemorative anniversary events, activities and festivals on all three islands.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative passed by U.S. Congress requires that travelers, including U.S. citizens who travel via air to and from the Americas, the Caribbean and Bermuda must travel with a passport in order to enter or re-enter the United States.

But since the U.S. Virgin Islands is a United States Territory, American citizens traveling to or from the St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas are considered not to have left the U.S., and thus do not need to present a passport.

For additional information and facts regarding the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2225.html. United States citizens can visit the State Department’s travel website, www.travel.state.gov, or call the U.S. National Passport Information Center: 1-877-4USA-PPT; TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793. Foreign nationals should contact their respective governments to obtain passports.

For information about the United States Virgin Islands, call 800-372-USVI (8784), visit usvitourism.vi or contact the nearest U.S.V.I. Department of Tourism regional office in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington, D.C. or Toronto.

As a U.S. Territory, the U.S.V.I. does not require proof of citizenship from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.