New Yukon IDs coming soon

Yukoners will start receiving modern driver's licences this autumn. "We want to roll them out in October," said Walter Brennan, manager of Yukon's motor vehicles branch.

Yukoners will start receiving modern driver’s licences this autumn.

“We want to roll them out in October,” said Walter Brennan, manager of Yukon’s motor vehicles branch.

Out goes the Polaroid camera and crude laminating apparatus. In, at last, come digital cameras, electronic signature pads and a sophisticated printer that fuses ink to plastic.

The change means that residents who obtain the new cards will no longer need to worry about their IDs being eyed with skepticism during trips Outside. Yukon’s current IDs are officially recognized throughout North America, but their low-tech appearance has led to difficulties for residents in recent years while entering bars, renting cars or being checked by police.

Yukon is the last jurisdiction in the country to upgrade its licence-making methods. Both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut introduced modern cards last year.

The upgrades also mean it will become more difficult to produce forged Yukon IDs. Currently, it would take little more than a computer scanner and a cheap laminating kit to produce a fake Yukon ID.

The new cards will sport holograms, features that can only be seen under ultraviolet light, and wavy lines like what’s found on paper money.

The cost of a five-year licence will remain at its current rate of $50.

Like other modern driver’s licences, the cards will include a barcode which, when swiped by RCMP, will feed personal details – your name, age, height, and eye and hair colour – into their computer system. It’s illegal for anyone else, including business owners, to scan this information, said Brennan.

Community Services Minister Archie Lang first announced plans to upgrade Yukon IDs in October of 2009. Initially, the department hoped to release the new cards this summer.

But the work involved with purchasing and shipping the new equipment took longer than thought, said Brennan. His staff is currently being trained to use the new system.

Datacard Canada Inc. received the contract, tendered in July for $368,661 to supply the equipment and provide training. Initial costs were estimated to be $500,000.

The new cards offer the same features found in the Maritimes and Saskatchewan. But they’re less fancy than the enhanced cards issued in BC, Ontario and Quebec, which allow residents to enter the United States by land or water without a passport.

Yukon passed on this option for several reasons. For one, enhanced cards cost an additional $30 to $40 more.

It also takes more time to issue an enhanced ID, because the cards need to be vetted by the United States’ Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Enhanced cards must also be laser engraved, which means they would have to be produced Outside.

And privacy concerns have been raised about enhanced cards. They contain a chip that emits a radio frequency to help identify Canadian citizens at the border. Privacy czars worry this information could be used by identity thieves.

Yukon considered piggybacking with British Columbia to produce the new licences, but it turned out this would have been more expensive than making the cards in-house in Whitehorse, said Brennan.

BC’s laser-engraved cards are produced by a private firm. If Yukon were to follow suit, we would pay the same fixed costs, spread over far fewer cardholders, resulting in a higher final price.

Laser-engraved cards are the “Cadillac” of IDs, said Brennan. “We didn’t feel we needed a Cadillac. We needed technology that would give us a secure card.”

Motor vehicles’ staff are bracing for a backlog when cardholders queue up to replace their old IDs with modern cards.

Brennan’s advice? There’s no rush.

Existing IDs remain valid until their expiry date. So, he says, “If you want to avoid the lineups, come in later.”

Contact John Thompson at

Just Posted

UPDATED: Volunteer firefighter dead after ambulance rolls into highway ditch near Haines Junction

The Yukon Coroner’s Service has identified the deceased as 19-year-old Elizabeth Boyd.

Colleagues remember Yukon hydrologist Rick Janowicz

The territory’s only hydrologist died May 23. A celebration of life is scheduled for June 21

Yukon contractors start to feel the pinch of Canada-U.S tariff spat

‘I think it’s absurd that we have tariffs because of national security…. It’s ridiculous’

Liard First Nation launches Watson Lake shuttle service

‘We think it has a lot of potential’

Whitehorse man sentenced to house arrest after threatening coworker with axe

Ram Naresh Prasad pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon and uttering death threats

Chefs showcase Indigenous cuisine in B.C.

On top of leading a kitchen in the province, owner travels around Canada to introduce his cuisine

Polarettes set to debut new equipment at Midnight Sun Invitational

‘We’ve really never had an opportunity to compete on home soil before with other clubs’

Claims, costs increase for Yukon workers’ compensation system

Board says it still has more money than it needs to cover liabilities

Whitehorse slo-pitch season starts with tournament

‘When everyone is out at the fields and there are crowds, people enjoy it a lot more’

The Dawson Daily News comes back to life

The life and times of the Klondike’s longest-lasting newspaper

Whitehorse needs to do a better job keeping bears away from trash

The City of Whitehorse has has repeatedly ignored expert advice to deal with the problem

Victim in alleged Whitehorse hit-and-run sues taxi driver, Premier Cabs

Vincent Charlie alleges that he continues to suffer from the impacts of the Feb. 8 crash

Most Read