On June 1st, the final phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will begin. That means that almost all travelers crossing into Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean will need to have a US passport or a US passport card. However, starting February 17, Vermont will begin issuing enhanced drivers’ licenses, which can take the place of passports for a quick jaunt over the Canadian border.

What makes these Enhanced Drivers’ Licenses so special? The new licenses contain a radio frequency identification chip  which can be read up to 20 feet away. To reassure Vermonters concerned about the privacy of their personal data, the chip only contains a number. The government can use the unique number programmed into your chip to bring up your picture and other information in a government database, ensuring that the license you’re carrying belongs to you.

Citizens of Vermont will pay an extra $25 for the enhanced IDs, which will undoubtedly be worth it for people who don’t have a passport but make frequent quick trips over the Canadian border. However, the Enhanced Drivers’ License can only be used in place of a passport for trips to countries covered by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which includes Canada, Mexico, and some countries in the Caribbean.  You will still a need a passport for any other international trips.

If you need to get a passport quickly, the easiest way to get one is to use a passport expediting service like RushMyPassport.com. An expediting company whisks your passport application form through the application process, significantly cutting down on processing time.  In fact, with the help of an expediting service, you can have your passport issued in as little as 24 hours!