B.C. phasing out enhanced driver's licence program by 2025

Citing a lack of interest and use, the province is planning to phase out the enhanced driver’s licence.

The card, launched in 2008 as the U.S. tightened requirements for entering the country, will no longer be valid as of 2025.

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ICBC suspended the ­application process in March last year, due to the lengthy in-person meeting required for the card, and is no longer ­taking applications. No cards have been issued since last spring.

When the enhanced licence was introduced, new laws required travellers to present a valid passport or other secure document to enter the U.S. The licence was meant to ease entry through ports and land crossings.

The province said the need for the enhanced card is waning as the country has simplified its passport application process and introduced a 10-year passport option.

It noted the NEXUS expedited border control card has grown in popularity. Passports and NEXUS cards allow entry to the U.S. by air, which is not possible with the enhanced driver’s licence.

Use of the enhanced cards has dropped, the province said. There are 26 per cent fewer cards in use now than in 2020, and only 40 per cent of card holders opted to renew the card in 2019

The enhanced program has run a deficit since 2014, and has only paid for itself twice since 2008. 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.

Phasing out of the program will occur over a five-year period, ending in September 2025, when all current cards will have expired. Active enhanced licences and ID cards will remain valid until their expiry date.

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