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48 hour warning

  • Story Highlights
  • Visitors to the U.S. will soon need to register travel plans 48 hours in advance
  • U.S. will collect passenger data from airlines
  • Data collected will include contact, frequent flyer and billing information
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By Michelle Jana Chan
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- New legislation will require visitors to the United States to register their travel plans 48 hours before departing for the U.S. The agreement -- signed by the United States and the European Union -- will allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue using Passenger Name Record (PNR) data as a screening tool at U.S. borders.

Passengers to the U.S. will be forced to register travel plans 48 hours before starting their journey.

What the legislation changes is how the PNR data is collected. Airlines will now be required to send passenger data directly to the DHS.

Under the new agreement, the Department of Homeland Security will collect 19 types of PNR data, which will include passenger's contact, frequent flyer, billing and baggage information. The Department of Homeland Security says it will filter out sensitive information like political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership and the sex life of an individual -- except in exceptional cases. Information will be maintained for seven years in an active file and eight years thereafter in a dormant file with limited access.

U.S. Homeland Secretary Michael Chernoff calls the PNR data "a proven resource for connecting the dots associated with terrorist activity and serious transnational crime". He added that the PNR data is "roughly the same" information that a traveler would provide to an airline or travel agent when purchasing a ticket.

There have been reservations expressed among the business community, who say the new scheme may hinder the way they work. But Chertoff says there will be provisions for visitors who need to travel to the U.S. at short notice. It's not yet clear how what those provisions will be.

Visitors from 22 western European countries will be affected by the new rule, which is expected to be introduced next year. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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