B.C. enhances border experience

VANCOUVER — While other regions have shied away from the Enhanced Driver’s Licences (EDL) to meet U.S. cross-border security standards, B.C. has decided to open up the application process.

The B.C. EDL – or ID card version if you don’t drive – will be adequate documentation for crossing into the U.S. by land or sea once new ID requirements kick in June 1. Alternatives to the EDL would be a passport, FAST card or Nexus card.

The B.C. enhanced cards are now in the final stages of approval by the U.S. government.

Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) travelers entering the U.S. at land and sea ports as of June 1 will have to prove their citizenship before being granted admittance. Requirements for traveling by air are already in place.

"We have worked very hard with the Government of Canada and federal agencies in the U.S. over the last couple of years to introduce an Enhanced Driver’s Licence,” said B.C. Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations Joan McIntyre. "We are delighted that we can now offer this service to all Canadian citizens residing in B.C. Ease of cross-border travel is vital to families, communities and businesses on both sides of the border."

The full implementation of the EDL program follows a successful test phase that was launched in January 2008, with 521 volunteers.

The EDLs are outfitted with a radio frequency identification technology (RFID) chip that will facilitate traveler processing at the U.S. border.

The EDL is voluntary and will be available for an incremental fee of $35.

All the information contained within the cards will be stored in a secure database located in Canada and maintained by CBSA and will only be accessed when the cardholder presents the card at the U.S. land or water border. At that point, it is used to establish the identity and citizenship of the cardholder.

When applying for an EDL, applicants will be asked to complete a citizenship and entitlement-to-travel questionnaire and sign a personal information consent form that authorizes ICBC to disclose information related to the cards to the CBSA and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), and for CBSA to disclose the information to the U.S. Customs, only when the cardholder presents it to enter the U.S.

"The licence will incorporate the latest security features to prevent identity theft, fraud and counterfeiting. We have conducted a full privacy impact assessment and engaged in regular consultation with both provincial and federal privacy commissioners," said B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor-General John van Dongen.

In developing the EDL and EIC, both the federal and provincial privacy commissioners were consulted to ensure the program complied with all applicable privacy legislation.

Appointments for interested participants can be made through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). 


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