Since January 23, 2007, all citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico and residents of the Caribbean and Bermuda who wish to enter the United States by air travel must present a passport.
Starting June 1, 2009, these travellers must show a passport or other valid, approved document to enter the United States by land or water. For Canadian citizens, the following documents will be accepted:
Q2: Why does the SAAQ offer a licence Plus?
A: In early December 2007, Mr. Jean Charest, Premier of Québec, announced his intention to offer this licence on a voluntary basis in order to make spontaneous travel easier between Québec and the United States. The SAAQ was mandated to develop this licence, called a licence Plus, which has been available since March 2009.
Q3: Why offer a licence Plus to enter the United States when a passport serves the same purpose?
A: The driver's licence plus is an alternative approved document which can be used to enter the United States by land or water. The cost to get a licence Plus are lower than the cost of a passport. In addition, its credit card-style format makes it easy to carry around everywhere, which makes spontaneous travel easier. The licence Plus is valid for four years
Q4: Does the licence Plus replace a passport?
A: The licence Plus can only be used to cross the U.S. border by land or water. The licence Plus cannot be used to enter or leave the United States by air travel, except under exceptional circumstances; the passport is normally required.
Q5: What happens if I cross the U.S. border by land with my licence Plus and I have to fly back due to an emergency?
A: Situations could occur in which Québec residents cross the U.S. border with their licence Plus and then later need to return home by plane due to an emergency. According to information obtained from the Canada Border Services Agency, which has discussed the issue with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, airline companies accommodate people who find themselves in this type of situation. It is up to these companies to assess each case and decide whether to allow a person to board a plane without a passport.
Q6: Is it quicker to use the licence Plus than the Canadian passport to cross the border?
A: The licence Plus contains a chip that can be scanned from a short distance. The customs officer can thus obtain information concerning the licence holder if a chip reader is in operation before the person reaches the booth, which could speed up the process. However, not all border crossing facilities have a special line for licence Plus holders.
Q7: What do I do when I arrive at U.S. customs with my new licence Plus?
A: The licence Plus contains a chip that can be scanned from a short distance. RFID chip readers may be located at the stop sign for the lane of traffic leading to the U.S. customs booth. The licence Plus must be removed from its protective sleeve, be kept facing the reader and be presented to a U.S. customs officer.
Q8: What happens if in the same vehicle, one person has a licence Plus and another has a passport?
A: The customs officer may be able to get information concerning the licence Plus holder before the person reaches the booth. However, the officer will only be able to get information concerning the other person when that person arrives at the booth and presents his or her passport.
Q9: Will the licence Plus be required when re-entering Canada by land or water?
A: Canadian requirements to enter or return to Canada have not changed. Your licence Plus or another piece of identification could be required.
Q11: Who can get a licence Plus?
A: To be eligible to obtain a licence Plus, you must be a Canadian citizen, a resident of Québec, hold a valid driver's licence and not be prohibited from leaving Canada.
Q12: How does a person who doesn't hold a driver's licence cross the U.S. border?
A: Since only Québec driver's licence holders can apply for a licence Plus, all other persons must obtain a passport or other approved secure document, except for the following:
Q13: Does the chip in the licence Plus contains personal information?
A: No, the chip only contains a unique number, not your name or any other personal information. Even if an unauthorized person managed to scan your number on the chip, your personal information, which is stored in the Canadian Government's database, could not be accessed.
Q14: What happens if the RFID chip isn't working, or if the customs booth doesn't have a chip reader?
A: In addition to the radio frequency identification (RFID) chip, the licence Plus features a machine readable zone (MRZ) similar the one found on a passport. A customs officer can use various methods to access information concerning a licence Plus holder.
Q15: Why is the passport not accepted as proof of Canadian citizenship (when applying for a licence Plus)?
A: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is the authority responsible for Canadian citizenship. As such, CIC developed the citizenship verification process that the SAAQ must use with all licence Plus applicants, and has determined which documents were to be accepted. The passport is not among them.
Q16: Can a person hold both a regular driver's licence and a licence Plus?
A: No, the licence Plus has two functions: certifying your privilege to drive a vehicle, and indicating your identity and citizenship (travel document function). If the holder of a driver's licence applies for a licence Plus, the conventional licence will be cancelled and replaced by a licence Plus.
Q17: Can a person whose driving privilege has been suspended still use the licence Plus to cross the U.S. border?
A: It is understood that the holder of this licence Plus is not allowed to drive. However, the licence Plus can still be used as a document to cross the border by land or water until its expiry date.
Q19: What is the cost of a licence Plus?
A: Costs for obtaining a licence for various classes of driver's licence.
The yearly fees for the licence Plus are the same as for the regular driver's licence.
Q20: What is the validity period for the licence Plus?
A: The validity period for the licence Plus is the same as the regular driver's licence and will expire on the date that appears on your current licence. A driver's licence is usually valid for four years. When a driver's licence is issued for the first time, the expiry date is the same as the expiry date for the health insurance card. This practice will continue in order to harmonize the renewal of driver's licences and the RAMQ health insurance card.
Q21: How long does it take to obtain a licence Plus?
A: Once your application at an authorized SAAQ service centre has been accepted, it will take less than 10 business days to receive your licence Plus by regular mail, just like the conventional licence. At the service centre, you will be issued a provisional licence Plus that will allow you to drive while waiting for your licence Plus to arrive in the mail. However, you cannot use a provisional licence Plus as a piece of identification to cross the border.
Before using your licence Plus to cross the U.S. border, you must activate it using our SAAQclic Online Service or by telephone at least 24 hours in advance. You can check if your licence Plus is valid (active) using the same SAAQclic Online Services than for its activation.
Q22: What should I do if I still haven't received my licence Plus in the mail 10 business days after my application was approved?
A: If you have not received your licence Plus in the mail within 10 business days of your application being approved and reception of your provisional licence Plus, contact the SAAQ by telephone.
Q23: Is it necessary to wait for the licence renewal to obtain a licence Plus?
A: No, anyone who meets the eligibility requirements (Canadian citizen, resident in Québec, valid licence holder, and not prohibited from leaving Canada) can apply for a licence Plus.
Q24: What do I do if my licence Plus is lost or stolen?
A: If your licence Plus is lost or stolen, you must notify the SAAQ without delay to prevent fraudulent use of your licence, in particular, to cross the U.S. border. The lost or stolen licence Plus will be cancelled, and you can obtain a new one by going to one of our service centres only. Service outlets are not authorized to process any transactions related to the licence Plus.
Note: Consult the licence Plus replacement fees.
Q25: What do I do if I no longer wish to have a licence Plus?
A: You can have your licence Plus replaced by a regular licence at any time. To do so, you must go in person to an SAAQ service outlet (service centre or issuing agent). As soon as your provisional licence is issued at the service outlet, your licence Plus is no longer valid and can no longer be used to enter the United States. You must destroy your licence Plus as soon as you receive your new licence. The processing cost of a request for a licence Plus is not refundable.
Q26: Where do I need to go to renew or replace my licence Plus?
A: All licence Plus services are only available in our service centres. The picture-taking service for the Health Insurance Card will also be available to you.
Q27: Since the licence Plus is a document to cross the U.S. border, will customs officers have access to personal information about the holder?
A: It is understood that certain information must be made available to U.S. customs officers. This information contains no details about your driving record, only information to indicate your identity and citizenship.
The SAAQ will make sure that each applicant is properly informed about the manner in which personal information is collected, used, stored, protected, disclosed and destroyed. Applicants must sign a consent form.
Q29: Are additional security measures taken to ensure that an RFID chip is not scanned by an unauthorized source?
A: After an application has been approved at a service centre, licence Plus applicants will receive a protective sleeve to protect the RFID chip from unauthorized scanning.
Note: the chip contains no information, apart from a unique number.
Q30: What does Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) do with my personal information?
A: Personal information shared between the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is protected under the Privacy Act. This information is used by CIC only to carry out quality assurance assessments of the licence Plus program with respect to examination of documentary proof that you submitted in support of your declaration of Canadian citizenship. CIC shares a minimum of personal information with the SAAQ, but it does not share it with any other organization.
Q31: What does the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) do with my personal information?
A: Personal information that is disclosed to the CBSA is protected under the federal Privacy Act. The CBSA assumes an intermediary role between the SAAQ and the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Information about the applicant that is approved will be transferred to the CBSA, which will make licence Plus information available to the CBP through a protected procedure when you present your licence Plus at U.S. customs.
Any access to licence Plus information by CBSA will be limited to troubleshooting data transmission problems with the SAAQ or CBP and to including in its data base the numbers of lost, stolen or fraudulent licences Plus, or those that are held by a deceased person.
Q32: What does the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) do with my personal information?
A: Every time you use your licence Plus at the U.S. border, the information about your licence Plus will be stored in a protected CBP database. The CBP can store, use and disclose personal information to determine eligibility to enter and remain in the U.S. or for any other purpose authorized under U.S. legislation. The information will be kept for 75 years, with certain exceptions.