Not since pre-9-11 days has it been this easy to head north across the border to the storied powder magnate that is the Kootenay and Canadian Rockies region of British Columbia. Crossings going either direction seem to be easier, faster and friendlier in recent years. The only thing standing between you and a veritable wonderland of word-class B.C. resort and backcountry skiing is the proper identification.

No passport? No problem. There is a cheaper and more easily obtainable option. Washington is one of a handful of states offering an enhanced driver license, and its youth counterpart, the enhanced ID. An enhanced driver license or ID is all you need to confirm your identity, granting you access to the great white north.

Already have a well-worn passport? Double check that it hasn’t expired, as there’s still plenty of time to send it in for a new one that should arrive well before the lifts start running. Either way, don’t let border crossing apathy or passport worries keep you from the B.C. mountains and mountain towns a few hours north of Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, and Sandpoint. Follow these steps to get your border crossing ID and you’ll be skiing somewhere along the Powder Highway before you know it.

7 Steps to Border Crossing Freedom: How to Get Your Enhanced ID

  1. Round up proof of citizenship. Your original certified birth certificate or a valid passport (or one that has been expired for less than five years) will work. If you were born in Spokane County, you can get a copy of your birth certificate for $20 at the Spokane Regional Health District office. If you were born elsewhere, it’s still pretty easy to get a copy (google it).
  2. Make sure you have documentation to prove your identity. A current driver license, military ID, or Parental Authorization Affidavit for anyone under 18 will do the trick.
  3. And don’t forget documentation to prove that you’re a resident of Washington. There’s a long list of common documents that will get this done (see the WA Department of Licensing website).
  4. Make sure you remember your social security number (card isn’t necessary) and have your current driver license with you, and then drive down to the Department of Licensing office at 6519 N Lidgerwood Street in Spokane during open office hours with the above documentation and your credit or debit card.
  5. Get in line and then prepare to zip through the application process where they will record your physical description, ask you a few simple questions, make you turn in your old license, take your new ID photo, and finally ask you to pay your fee ($20 for the enhancement, plus $18 for a new 6-year license, minus $3 per year for each year you have left on your current license).
  6. Your new border-crossing-ready enhanced driver license should arrive in the mail in a few weeks.
  7. Pack your skis/board, suitcase, and hot springs bathing suit and get ready to head north!

Be sure to read through the DOL’s instructions yourself to make sure you don’t miss any requirements that might apply to your unique situation! Dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/edlget.html. //