Ontario drivers who are Canadian citizens can apply for the Ontario Enhanced Driver’s Licence.
Nine ServiceOntario centres are accepting applications for this passport alternative, which can be used at Canada-U.S. land and water border crossings.
Those who wish to apply for a licence should visit ServiceOntario to book an application appointment.
For public inquiries please call ServiceOntario at 1-800-387-3445 or 416-235-2999.
The Ministry of Transportation introduced the Photo Card Act, 2008 on June 3, 2008 to enable the efficient and secure flow of cross border travel and commerce as well as continue to establish Ontario as a leader in road safety. The legislation came into force on March 6, 2009. This legislation introduced three new products, the enhanced driver’s licence (EDL), the photo card and the enhanced photo card, as a well as a leading edge fraud prevention and detection measure, photo comparison technology (PCT).
The EDL is available to qualified Ontario driver’s licence holders and can be used as an alternative travel document at Ontario-United States land and water border crossings. The photo card will ensure that Ontarians who do not drive have access to a government issued photo card that they can choose to use when completing everyday transactions such as opening bank accounts. In future non-drivers’ who are Canadian citizens may be able to apply for an enhanced photo card for US land and water border crossings. Photo comparison technology is currently being used by several Canadian provinces and U.S. states. PCT has proved to be a valuable tool in preventing fraud and identity theft.
Due to the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel initiative (WHTI) Land and Sea rules in June 2009, the Ontario government implemented a new enhanced driver’s licence (May 2009) as an alternative to a Canadian passport for crossing the border into the U.S. An enhanced photo card is expected to be available in the future.
2. What is an enhanced driver’s licence (EDL) and an enhanced photo card?
Drivers have the option of adding Canadian citizenship information to their driver’s licence to create an “enhanced” driver’s licence that can be used as a passport alternative at Canada-U.S. land and water border crossings.
An optional photo identification card will be available in the future for people who do not drive – providing these individuals with a convenient, government-issued photo card for use when completing everyday transactions, like opening a bank account. In future, Canadian citizens who are non-drivers may also have the option of adding citizenship information to create an “enhanced” photo card.
3. What is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)?
The United States government passed the WHTI under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 as one of the recommendations from The 9/11 Commission Report. The law came into effect for air travel January 23, 2007. The full requirement of the rules for land and water travel came into effect June 1, 2009. The law requires all travellers entering the United States to present a passport or other accepted secure document (such as a NEXUS card or an EDL), that establishes the bearer’s identity and citizenship. Learn more about the rules for travelling into the United Sates at the U.S. Department of State’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative website.
4. Are there any exemptions for children under WHTI?
Yes. Canadian citizens 15 years of age and under only require proof of citizenship, such as an original or a copy of a birth certificate, or a Canadian citizenship card. Canadian citizens 18 years of age and under who are travelling with a school or other organized group, under adult supervision with parental/guardian consent also only require proof of citizenship. Learn more about the rules for travelling into the United States at the U.S. Department of State’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative website.
An EDL contains the same information as a driver’s licence with three additional features; a citizenship identifier, an optical character recognition (OCR) zone and a radio frequency identification technology (RFID) chip. The RFID chip will use radio frequency technology to facilitate traveller processing at U.S. border crossings. The OCR zone is available as a backup to the RFID chip. OCR is a technology that helps streamline data entry by “reading” specially formatted text in a document and translating it for use on a computer. Canadian passports contain OCR.
6. Can someone use the Radio Frequency Identification chip in my enhanced driver’s licence to get my personal information?
No. The Radio Frequency Identification chip embedded in your enhanced card doesn’t contain any personal information, just a unique reference number.
In addition, the chip is passive. This means that it doesn’t have a power source and cannot transmit date unless it is activated by a special reader.
A security sleeve will be provided with your EDL that will prevent anyone from reading the RFID information unless you remove the card from the sleeve.
7. When and where can I get an Enhanced Driver’s Licence?
The enhanced driver’s licence is available through 9 selected ServiceOntario centres across the province. The locations are in Cornwall, Kingston, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Catharines, Thunder Bay, Toronto (Central), Toronto (North York) and Windsor.
8. How much will the enhanced driver’s licence cost?
The fee for an enhanced driver’s licence is $40 for a five year-term (on top of existing $75 fee for current driver’s licence fee).
9. Can I use the enhanced driver’s licence as a passport when I travel to the United States by air?
Enhanced driver’s licences cannot be used to enter the United States by air; a passport is still required.
Enhanced driver’s licences are only accepted as a legitimate form of identification for entering the United States by motor vehicle or boat.
Travellers should check the entry requirements of other counties before leaving home.
10. What additional fraud prevention measures will be included in the EDL program?
MTO has implemented photo comparison technology as a fraud prevention measure for all driver’s licences, including EDLs.
11. What is photo comparison technology?
Photo comparison technology automates the process of photo image matching to help ensure that one individual is not receiving multiple cards in different names.