Support for high-tech licences increases in northern states

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WASHINGTON, DC — Some Northern US states are supporting an Ontario initiative that would allow high-tech drivers licences to be used as acceptable documentation for border crossing, according to a report in the Toronto Star.

Vermont has joined Washington State in requesting permission to use high-tech drivers licences instead of passports for residents crossing in and out of Canada. Ontario Tourism Minister Jim Bradley told the Star that the province is in discussions with Michigan to launch a pilot project that would allow drivers licences to be used in place of passports at all Ontario-Michigan crossings.

Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, passports (or a credit card-type passport card in the US) would be required to cross between the two countries by as early as Jan. 1, 2008. Ontario has been lobbying the US to accept high-tech drivers licences that include encrypted information including citizenship.

Ontario officials say they are encouraged that some Northern US states are getting on-board the campaign to allow for the use of high-tech licences.

“This is good news for those of us on the Canadian side,” Bradley said. “The idea of allowing an upgraded driver’s licence to cross the border appears to be gaining some momentum. A new flexibility seems to be apparent at Homeland Security and (US) State (Department).”

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