An enhanced Minnesota driver's license will work like a U.S. passport, allowing state residents to re-enter the United States from Canada. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed legislation May 13 to create a new license that will carry encoded data required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for entry from Canada.
The new license option will cost an additional $15 at the time drivers renew their licenses. That's far less than a $100 U.S. passport or $85 passport card now required for adult citizens to re-enter the U.S. from north of the border. Citizens 16 and younger can continue to use their birth certificates as identification at the border. The new licenses will not be available until June 1, 2012, and they will be effective starting January 2013.
The change also will enable many Canadian licensed drivers to enter Minnesota with their provincial enhanced license. Several provinces have the enhanced licenses but their drivers have been unable to enter the state without a passport until Minnesota passed the new provision.
According to the Consulate General of Canada, Minnesota residents made 483,000 visits to Canada in 2006. Canadians made more than 614,000 visits to Minnesota during that same period.