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Understanding the Enhanced Driver’s License

April 24th, 2012  |  Auto Insurance

Living in Ontario and in close proximity to the United States, it is a common occurrence for people to make weekend trips and take vacations to our neighbor to the south. We cross the border to go shopping, see the sights, and go to theme parks and sporting events.

While a government issued piece of identification and birth certificate was once enough to get you across the border, times have changed as security has tightened up at all border crossings in North American and abroad. 

While most people now know that they require a passport to travel, there is an alternative for people that are travelling by land; an enhanced driver’s license.

What is an enhanced driver’s license?

An enhanced driver’s license is similar to a regular driver’s license; however, it is also a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WTI) acceptable document that can be used as a citizen identification document. Other than a passport, it is the only other piece of identification that can be used to cross the US-Canada border on land. However, it cannot be used for air travel.

What do I need to apply for an enhanced license?

Applying for an enhanced license is similar to applying for a passport. There are a number of qualification guidelines that you have to meet. To qualify residents need to meet these minimum criteria:

  • Be a Canadian citizen
  • Be a resident of Ontario
  • Have a valid Ontario driver’s license
  • You must not have any travel restrictions

To apply, you must book an appointment and make sure you have all of the proper documentation for the application process. The appointment will be held at one of nine Service Ontario locations across the province that offers the enhanced license services.

Why apply for an enhanced driver’s license over a passport?

If you are only intending to travel to the United States by land, then an enhanced license is a great option. At only $40, it costs less than a Canadian passport. However, if you are planning on traveling by air to the United States or abroad, then you will still require a valid passport. 

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