In response to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), the Ontario government announced on March 9, 2007 that the Ministry of Transportation intends to introduce a new driver’s licence card with technologies and security features to prevent identity theft, tampering and counterfeit. The additional security features of the new licence include a second photo, a unique background, laser-engraved signatures and microtext that would be difficult to duplicate.
Officials of the Ontario government indicated that these security features are consistent with the WHTI, a new U.S. law that requires all travellers, including Canadians, to carry a valid passport or other appropriate secure document when travelling to the United States from within the western hemisphere. Since January 23, 2007, the WHTI has prohibited entry or reentry into the United States by air from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda, without a passport or other acceptable documentation (currently limited to NEXUS Air cards for Canadians). As early as January 1, 2008, new US WHTI rules could impose similar restrictions on land and sea travel within the Americas. Although Ontario officials are hopeful that the new licence would be considered an acceptable identification document at the U.S. border, these new licences are not expected to contain any citizenship or other similar personal information until the United States agrees that such new licences may be used instead of passports at border crossings. The launch of this new licence appears to be part of the Ontario government's efforts to balance security measures with the efficient movement of goods and people across the Canada-US border.
Giesecke and Devrient Systems Canada Inc., a subsidiary of the smart-card maker, Giesecke and Devrient of Germany, will be producing the new licence which is expected to be available in late 2007.