New ID requirement go into effect along U.S. border

Published 28 January 2008

Beginning Thursday, U.S. and Canadian citizens crossing the border between the two countries will have to show a passport, passport card, or enhanced driver’s license before allowing to cross; business leaders worry this will have a chilling effect on local economies along the border

Residents along the Maine-Canada border are preparing for new rules that go into effect this week affecting their travel back and forth across the border. Beginning Thursday, new regulations will require that adults entering the U.S. from Canada by land prove their citizenship through documents such as a passport. The new requirement has people in this mill town of about 4,400 on the northern tip of Maine and in the neighboring Canadian town of Edmundston getting their papers in order. Federal officials say they will be flexible in implementing the new identification standards for entering the country. Under the current standards, U.S. and Canadian citizens can enter the country by land by simply showing an ID and telling the border agent their nationality. Starting Thursday, they will have to display a passport or similar document, or a combination of two other documents, such as a driver’s license and birth certificate. People eighteen and younger need only show proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. The new rules will be inescapable along the Maine border in towns such as Madawaska, Van Buren, Houlton, and Calais, where people routinely cross to visit friends and relatives, go to work, or to shop or go out to dinner.

American and Canadian business leaders in regions along the border are afraid that the new rule will have a chilling effect on businesses on both sides of the border.