Ontario to provide enhanced ID cards to enter U.S.

Date: February 1, 2010

THORNHILL – As of June 1, 2009, the United States government’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires Canadian citizens entering the United states by land or water to present a valid passport or approved secure document that establishes the bearer’s identity and citizenship.

The Government of Ontario will provide two types of “enhanced” identification cards as an alternative to a Canadian passport for crossing the border into the U.S. The Enhanced Driver’s Licence (EDL) and an Enhanced Identity Card can be used by Canadian citizens to enter the U.S. by motor vehicle or boat. Valid passports are still required for air travel to the U.S.

Ontario residents living with epilepsy who cannot obtain an enhanced driver’s licence can apply for the Enhanced Photo Card, which is scheduled to be available in spring 2011 at ServiceOntario locations across the province. It is estimated that photo cards will cost $35 to $75.

The Ontario government’s Photo Card Act, enacted June 3, 2008, governs four types of identification:

  1. Driver’s licence: permits holders to drive and may be obtained by residents of Ontario who have successfully passed a driver’s test. This is no longer accepted as valid identification for travel into the United States.
  2. Enhanced driver’s licence (EDL): a driver’s licence with additional citizenship information. It permits the holder to drive and is accepted by U.S. border officials as a valid travel and identity document for land and water crossing from Canada into the United States. It may be obtained by Canadian citizens who are licensed drivers.
  3. Photo card: functions as a government-issued identity document for Ontario residents who do not drive. This government issued photo card could be used when completing everyday transactions such as opening bank accounts. It cannot be used to cross the border into the U.S.
  4. Enhanced photo card: similar to the photo card, but will contain citizenship information making it a valid travel and identity document that can be used for travel from Canada into the U.S., by land or water. This card should be available to all Canadian citizens by spring of 2011.

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