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A Canadian Customs guard holds a passport in Stanstead, Que, on May 10, 2009. (Christinne Muschi/christinne muschi)
A Canadian Customs guard holds a passport in Stanstead, Que, on May 10, 2009. (Christinne Muschi/christinne muschi)

It's ID Day: New border rules in effect Add to ...

As of this morning, the Canada-United States border becomes more difficult to cross, as border agents now accept just five types of ID. The new rule is part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, intended to filter out terrorists and other criminals before they set foot in the U.S. First introduced five years ago as part of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, the restrictions have been delayed several times by politicians in both the U.S. and Canada.

WHAT ID YOU CAN USE

PASSPORTS:

Over half of Canadians already have one. Adult passports cost $87. Applications take two to four weeks to process.

FAST CARDS:

Commercial drivers can apply to the Free and Secure Trade program, designed to expedite trade of low-risk goods.

U.S. PASSPORT CARDS:

Designed for American residents of border communities, the passport card is cheaper than a full passport.

SECURE CERTIFICATE OF INDIAN STATUS:

A heavy Canadian lobby effort convinced U.S. officials to add status cards to the list of acceptable border documents.

NEXUS CARDS:

They are available to citizens and permanent residents of Canada or the U.S. who have lived continuously in one of these countries for the past three years. The cards allow access to special lanes at road crossings.

****

BORDER FACTS

Total length of Canada-U.S. border:

8,892 kilometres

Total official border crossings: 119

Number of U.S. trips to Canada last year: 22.6million

Number of U.S. trips to Canada in 2000: 44 million

Number of Canadian trips to the U.S.

last year: 42.5 million

Percentage of all Canadian exports that go to the U.S.: 85 %

Percentage of all American exports that go to Canada: 23 %

U.S. Customs and Border Protection guards stationed on Canadian border: 1,600

U.S. Customs and Border Protection guards stationed along Canadian border

in 2000: 340

****

BUSIEST CROSSINGS

1.

WINDSOR, ONT., TO DETROIT

Combination of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel

2.

BLUE WATER BRIDGE

Connecting Sarnia, Ont., and

Port Huron, Mich.

3.

RAINBOW BRIDGE

Connecting Niagara Falls, Ont.,

and Niagara Falls, N.Y.

4.

PEACE BRIDGE

Connecting Fort Erie, Ont.,

and Buffalo, N.Y.

5.

PEACE ARCH

Connecting Surrey, B.C.,

and Blaine, Wash.

****

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Not everyone predicts chaos today as the new ID rules go into effect, The Canadian Press reports. Although only 20 per cent of U.S. residents are said to have passports, a recent survey of border crossers suggested 80 per cent have the needed documentation under the new rules.

"The chaos is a bit overblown. Yes, it's a new requirement, but it's requirement that has some practical value ... better identification was inevitable."

Chris Sands, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington

"I don't expect any major delays or traffic jams as a result of this program. There will be no story on June 1."

Jayson P. Ahern, acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection

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