Planning to travel to the United States in the near future? In order to ensure your seamless entry, it is important to have the right documents, including the appropriate identification. Beginning June 1, 2009, the United States will implement the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), requiring all travellers – including Canadian and U.S. citizens – to present a valid passport or other approved secure document when entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere, regardless of mode of travel.
Even if you don’t have a valid passport, however, you may still travel to the United States with an approved secure document. When travelling by air, this can include a government-issued NEXUS card. When travelling by land or sea, approved documents include a NEXUS card, FAST card, or Enhanced Driver’s Licence/Enhanced Identity Card.
In April 2009, British Columbia began implementing a program to issue enhanced driver’s licences to Canadian citizens born in B.C. To date, these licences are available in beta format, with 500 issued; however, depending on the program’s success, all Canadian citizen residents currently holding valid driver’s licences for B.C. will also be issued these new licences.
When presenting the enhanced licence at the border, customs officials will be able to scan the card to access a database that includes information about the cardholder, including address, birth date, and Canadian citizenship. The benefits to such a licence? Not only will individuals be able to travel to the United States by land or sea without having to first obtain a passport, the enhanced driver’s licence may also speed up otherwise long wait times at the border.
While British Columbia is currently the only province issuing these “smart” licences, several others have passed legislation to launch similar programs, including Quebec, Manitoba, and Ontario. Be sure to contact your PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP professional for further details regarding the enhanced driver’s licence for these and other provinces. In the meantime, it is important to ensure that when travelling to the United States by land, sea or air, that you have the appropriate documentation.
Posted by Melodie Hughes » No Comments