Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill into law late last month that is aimed at easing border crossings into British Columbia, Canada. The new law authorizes a new “enhanced” driver’s license for truckers and other drivers to use in place of a passport.
Starting in January, residents can begin applying for the enhanced licenses that will contain radio-frequency identification devices, or RFIDs. The devices will allow border guards to check proof of citizenship and search federal databanks, including criminal records.
The cost to obtain the alternative licenses will be $40 – much less than the $97 passports expected to be required for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada in June 2009. Regular commercial and personal driver’s licenses also are being accepted at the border until June 2009, The Associated Press reported.
Gregoire said the alternative licenses are needed to boost security while preserving the cross-border flow of trade and tourism. She cited the $35 million in goods flowing both ways daily through the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Blaine, WA.
The new law, previously HB1289, took effect immediately.