The Department of Homeland Security will partner with the state of Vermont to develop a driver's license that will negate the need of Vermonters to show passports during border crossings to and from Canada.
The enhanced driver's licenses will be a possible compliance alternative to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), said a DHS press release.
As announced in June, on Jan. 31, 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, plus proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, for admissibility into the United States. DHS intends to end the routine practice of accepting oral declarations alone at land and sea ports of entry, and also proposes to begin alternative procedures for U.S. and Canadian children at that time.
For those who voluntarily apply for the new licenses and qualify, they will be accepted at U.S. land and sea ports. The licenses will cost slightly more and will contain security features similar to a U.S. passport.
Canadian officials have been pushing licenses over passports, telling American officials the passport requirements are seriously harming tourism and could damage trade, according to CTV.ca.
On the American side, just last week Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff urging him "to come Vermont and take action to put an end to this absolutely unacceptable situation." Sanders wrote trips across the border that took just minutes now can take up to three hours. Much like Canadian officials, Sanders feared severe economic repercussions to trade and tourism if action is not taken immediately.