The B.C. Government has announced that it will gradually phase out travel ID cards, favouring other methods of Canada/U.S. border crossing.
According to the Provincial Government, the enhanced driver’s license (EDL) and enhanced identification card (EIC) were both originally offered to make entry into the United States easier.
B.C. said the services will be discontinued because of the decline in popularity of the documents, as well as other cost-effective options available to residents that are both valid for a longer period and allows for air travel.
The EDL program will be phased out over five years, ending in September of 2025, when all current cards have expired. Active licenses and ID cards will continue to be valid until they expire.
In March of 2020, ICBC, which administered the application process, suspended it due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirements for a lengthy in-person appointment. Applications for new cards have not been accepted and no new ones have been issued since.
The B.C. Government said the cards were meant to make crossing into the U.S. a quick process over land.
“Introduced in 2008, B.C.’s EDL served as a single piece of identification allowing the bearer to enter the U.S. through ports and land crossings only. It cost $35 more than a regular B.C. driver’s license. Non-drivers and youth could obtain an EIC with similar benefits. These options coincided with a then-new law requiring travelers to present a valid passport or another secure document when entering the U.S.,” said the B.C. Government.
Since then, however, Canada has simplified its passport application process and introduced a 10-year option. The NEXUS expedited border control card has also grown in popularity. With either option, the bearer can enter the U.S. by land or air, which is not possible with the EDL or EIC.
As well, the Provincial Govenrment said that interest in the program has declined, as 26% fewer cards are active now than in January 2018, and in 2019, only four in 10 cardholders chose to renew.
“The program – originally envisioned as self-funding – has run deficits consistently since 2014 and in all but two years of its operation. 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,” said the Province.