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B.C. to end enhanced ID cards for U.S. border entry

Last Updated Jan 18, 2021 at 1:02 pm PDT

FILE - A motorist uses the Nexus lane as other lanes that are closed are seen at the Douglas-Peace Arch border crossing, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, March 16, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is closing its borders to most people who are not citizens or permanent residents to slow the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. will start phasing out one fast-pass option for crossing into the U.S. in favour of other options

The enhanced identification card and the enhanced driver’s licence programs will end by September 2025

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. is going to stop issuing enhanced identification cards for easier entry into the U.S. because the option doesn’t make as much sense anymore.

With the introduction of the 10-year passport and NEXUS passes, the enhanced identification cards (EIC) and enhanced driver’s licence (EDL), first introduced in 2008, aren’t as necessary anymore, according to a release from the province. As a result, the cards will be phased out over the next five years.

The EDL had worked as a single piece of ID for cardholders to cross the border in the U.S. through ports and land crossings. However, the alternatives allow for entry by air, which the EDL and EIC couldn’t do.

Related: Canada-U.S. border restriction extended to Feb. 21

Fewer people are using the EIC and EDL, with a 26 per cent drop in active cards compared to two years ago. The province says only four in 10 cardholders of expiring cards choose to renew and the program is too expensive to keep running.

“The program – originally envisioned as self-funding – has run deficits consistently since 2014 and in all but two years of its operation,” reads a release from the province. “To date, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has provided $7.5 million to cover costs incurred by ICBC for administering the program.”

The application process for the cards was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic last March since a “lengthy in-person appointment” was required. The province hasn’t issued any cards since.

By September 2025, all current cards will have expired and renewals will not be possible.

The other three provinces where the EDL program was offered have either stopped the program or are starting to wind it down.

Ontario began its phase-out in July 2019, and Manitoba will do the same in 2022. Quebec stopped the program in 2014.

The land border between Canada and the U.S. has been closed to non-essential travel since last March, and it will remain that way until at least Feb. 21.