British Columbia has asked U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for permission to deploy driver’s licenses that also will serve as border-crossing cards for entry into the United States. The Canadian province wants the card to serve as an entry document in lieu of a passport.
British Columbia applied in August to begin implementing the hybrid licenses starting in January 2008. The province’s ministry, along with other provincial governments believed to be interested in developing such hybrid licenses, is awaiting approvals from Chertoff to move forward, according to media reports in Canada.
Some Canadians saw an encouraging sign in Chertoff’s remarks on Nov. 15 about the suitability of enhanced driver’s licenses to meet the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
In British Columbia, officials called on Chertoff to accept an enhanced driver’s license as an alternative to a passport. In the United States, similar hybrid licenses that also serve as border cards are being developed in Arizona, New York, Vermont and Washington state.
The enhanced driver’s license would help reduce border-crossing waiting times of up to three hours and help visitors’ access the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver, officials in Canada said.
The enhanced driver’s license programs present opportunities for contractors active in the identification card industry. The hybrid license/border cards being developed in the United States have new features that include ultra-high frequency radio frequency identification chips that can be read at 20 feet.