In 2001 I was turning 18, and for the big birthday weekend I had a fun escapade in Vancouver, Canada planned out. My birthday is at the end of September, and unfortunately that year, the tragic events of September 11th foiled my plans for making a break for the border. Lines were extremely long (hours and hours of waiting to be exact) and people that had been crossing back and forth between the Washington and Canadian border for years were all of a sudden held up for questioning. Needless to say, I stayed home to celebrate.
A little over six years later, you would think that the situation at the U.S. Canadian border had gotten better. It hasn’t. The Department of Homeland Security, who is always increasing their methods of border patrol, recently pushed Congress to tighten identification requirements at US land border crossings (meaning Canada and Mexico). Starting January 31st, both Canadian and American citizens will need to make sure to have their passports with them or a driver’s license accompanied by an original birth certificate; licenses by themselves won’t cut it. Luckily for Canadians, procuring a passport just got easier.
72 million people crossed the U.S. Canadian border in 2007 meaning that stricter regulations will mean one thing: more backup. The decision comes in response to legislation approved by Congress last month that barred Homeland Security from requiring all citizens entering the United States to present a passport or similar secure proof of identification. But Homeland Security pushed through. As Secretary Michael Chertoff said, “It’s time to grow up and recognize that if we’re serious about this threat, we’ve got to take reasonable, measured, but nevertheless determined steps to getting better security.”
Homeland Security’s decision states that all traveler’s 19 and over will be required to present a passport or border pass card. Otherwise, make sure you are carrying both your driver’s license AND an original birth certificate. And most importantly, plan on long lines.