British Columbia rolls out hybrid license

British Columbia is accepting volunteers to apply for Canada's first hybrid driver's license that doubles as a border crossing card for entry into the United States, Canadian officials said Monday.

The enhanced driver's license initially will be tested on 500 British Columbian natives who hold valid birth certificates and driver's licenses. If effective, it could be extended to all Canadian citizens residing in British Columbia.

The card is intended to serve as an alternative to a Canadian passport for the purpose of entering the United States, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and Canada Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said in a news release. Starting in June 2009, all travelers will be required to show passports or an eligible alternative document to enter the United States under the U.S. government's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

"The enhanced driver's license is a new, voluntary option for drivers that allows for more convenient travel to the United States," Campbell said.

"We have worked hard with the U.S. government to ensure that legitimate trade and travel across our borders are not disrupted as a result of the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative," Day said.

The Canadian enhanced driver's license programs present opportunities for contractors active in the identification card industry and in systems integration. The hybrid license/border cards also are being developed in Arizona, New York, Vermont and Washington State. Some of the cards have new features that include ultrahigh-frequency radio frequency identification chips that can be read from 20 feet away.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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