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I.D. Cards Proposed for U.S. Border Crossings

By CO Staff @canadaone |

A new "smart card" from U.S. Homeland Security may speed up border crossings, providing a passport alternative for those coming to Canada from the U.S.

The new "PASS" cards, which will be equipped with radio chips designed to automatically retrieve the holder’s details on the screen of the border agent, provide a low-cost alternative to a passport for travellers.

The cards were developed in response to concerns about new legislation that would have required visitors and returning U.S. citizens to present a passport as identification when entering the U.S effective January 2008.

Given that only one in five U.S. citizens carry a passport, there were concerns in the tourism industry that the new passport requirement could deter Americans from visiting Canada. Statistics indicate the U.S. visits are already down, with the most noticable downturn in spontanious visits.

"It's a step in the right direction," said Randy Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. "It's a signal that Homeland Security has got the message that a handy and inexpensive card as an alternative to a passport is needed."

Williams expects Canada to create a similar program. "It's on the Canadian agenda, we have an interest in coming up with a card."

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