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Security Enhancements for Driver’s Licence and Photo Identification Cards

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What has changed?
  2. Why are you making this change?
  3. Will applicants have to wait at the MRD offices for the additional security checks to be completed?
  4. Will central issuance be the process for every type of driver’s licence?
  5. Who is producing the cards and where will they be printed?
  6. Are other jurisdictions doing this?
  7. What are the additional security features?
  8. I’ve heard the new cards are produced using ‘facial recognition’ – how does this work?
  9. Will the facial recognition data be shared with anyone else?
  10. How do facial recognition and central issuance protect against identity theft and fraud?
  11. Even if it comes from a secure, centralized factory, is sending a driver’s licence by mail safe?
  12. Why are the photos now printed in black and white and not colour?

1. What has changed?

Driver’s licences and photo identification cards are now printed at a central location and mailed to clients using a central issuance system, instead of being printed on demand at Motor Registration Division offices.

Clients will continue to visit a Service NL - Motor Registration Office to apply for their initial driver’s licence and/or photo identification card and once issued they can renew online when necessary.

Clients will keep their existing card (if they have one) and will receive a temporary document, which is valid for 30 days or until their card arrives in the mail within 10-14 working days.

The Motor Registration Division strongly recommends that clients allow enough time to receive the new card in the mail. Clients should not wait until the last minute to renew their driver’s licence and/or photo identification.

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2. Why are you making this change?

Over-the-counter printing technology can no longer produce the highly advanced anti-counterfeiting security features required to help prevent/deter fraud. The primary goal of the new central issuance system is to provide more secure driver’s licences and photo ID cards which will protect Newfoundlanders and Labradorians against identify theft and fraud. This new process uses the latest security and technology advances, and brings us in line with the rest of the country, while keeping costs to citizens at a minimum.

Centralized mailing also allows MRD staff to investigate possible fraud/identify theft before applicants receive their driver’s licence and/or photo identification card.

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3. Will applicants have to wait at the MRD offices for the additional security checks to be completed?

The service time will actually be shorter with a centralized production method. With central issuance, applicants don’t have to wait for the permanent licence to be produced. Applicants leave the office with a temporary paper driver’s licence and/or photo identification card which takes only a few seconds to print. The additional security checks are done after the applicant leaves the office and before the card is printed.

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4. Will central issuance be the process for every type of driver’s licence?

Yes, clients will be issued a temporary driver’s licence for the same reasons they are today (i.e. learner motorcycle licence, endorsement, reclassifications, etc.) Clients will keep their existing licence until the updated card arrives in the mail.

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5. Who is producing the cards and where will they be printed?

Gemalto, a world leader in digital security, was awarded the Atlantic Canada contract for the secure driver’s licences and central issuance. Their secure facility is located in Burlington, Ontario.

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6. Are other jurisdictions doing this?

Yes, all other Canadian jurisdictions (except the Yukon) and 39 U.S. states are now using a centralized system to produce driver’s licences and/or photo identification cards.

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7. What are the additional security features?

Your new secure driver’s licence or photo identification card features multiple layers of security to help prevent identity theft and fraud. It meets many industry and government standards.

  • Changeable laser image enables two or more images to occupy the same area and laser engraving raises the print making it difficult to tamper with or modify
  • Polycarbonate card body is more durable, secure and tamper-resistant
  • Inventory control number is unique and has an accompanying barcode

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8. I’ve heard the new cards are produced using ‘facial recognition’ – how does this work?

Facial recognition software is used to ensure the person whose picture is being taken is the same person to whom the card was originally issued, reducing the risk of identity theft and fraud.

The software compares two or more photos to prevent a suspended driver or fraudster from getting multiple cards in different names or a card with someone else’s photo on it.

Facial recognition software has been used for many years by governments and businesses all over the world, and has been part of our system in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2006. It has proven to be one of the leading tools in preventing identity theft.

Eyeglasses and smiling may interfere with the software, which is why we ask you to remove your glasses and use a neutral facial expression when we capture your picture.

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9. Will the facial recognition data be shared with anyone else?

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to protecting your privacy. Facial recognition data will not be shared with outside parties, except when required by court order.

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10. How do facial recognition and central issuance protect against identity theft and fraud?

After a person applies for or renews a driver’s licence or photo identification card, the card moves through the facial recognition procedure. Cards that are an exact match for a previously captured photo and newly captured photos are sent for printing/mailing. Cards that are flagged with a discrepancy in the photo are scanned by Motor Registration staff, who verify identity and check to ensure that applicants have not already received one or more driver’s licence and/or photo identification cards under different names. If fraud or identity theft is suspected, Motor Registration Division staff can suspend production of the driver’s licence and/or photo identification cards for further investigation and prevent the card from being printed and mailed.

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11. Even if it comes from a secure, centralized factory, is sending a driver’s licence by mail safe?

Yes. The mailing process used to send driver’s licence and/or photo identification cards is similar to that used by the financial services industry to deliver credit and debit cards and by the federal government to send passports. There will be no indication on the outside of the envelope that it contains a driver’s licence and/or photo identification card. Also, mailing the card helps to ensure that applicants provided a legitimate address.

If, for any reason, a card can’t be delivered it will be returned to Motor Registration Division head office at 149 Smallwood Drive, Mount Pearl.

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12. Why are the photos now printed in black and white and not colour?

The new Newfoundland and Labrador driver’s licence and/or photo identification cards will have a detailed black and white version of the photo engraved by a laser onto a very high-quality polycarbonate card body. The photo is fully integrated within the solid card, not layered. The high-quality black and white laser-engraved image helps to focus on key facial features without the distraction or distortion of color. This makes the card much more difficult to alter or counterfeit.

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