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The DMV has stricter identification requirements than boarder security does.

  1. Aug 5, 2004 #1
    I just got my learners permit today at the DMV, and brought a photocopy of my birth certificate as a form of identification. They did not accept it and said I needed an original document with the state seal stamped on it to proove that the document is real, so my dad and I had to go to the town hall (luckily only 20 minutes away) of the town in which I was born to get an official birth certificate. A few weeks ago when I was driving back to NY from Canada, the guy at the boarder accepted that exact photocopy as proof of identification.

    Man, I don't feel safe at all.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2004 #2
    The people at the DMV are idiots - how does a State seal "prove" anything? Gees, anyone with a desire and some time can counterfeit a seal. I mean if they can counterfeit the rest of the document why not a seal. Having said that --- I suppose the DMV folks sent you back for the real, live, and in-person seal (rather than it's picture) because they could - not because it "proves" anything. The guy at the border would have to make a very difficult decision if he prevented you entering the US based on that rationale ---- especially since your in-person seal was stuck in the US.
  4. Aug 5, 2004 #3
    wasteofo2, consider yourself lucky that you're border crossing guard was nice.

    I travel a lot between Canada and the US, and a lot of border crossing guards can be aholes. Be glad he let you through as opposed to sending you over to the other guards for a check.

    You'll be in a building sitting there for a random amount of time, they look through your car, check your ID, and basically keep you there until they think you can pass.

    It depends on how nice or bitter the crossing guard you get. Some guys simply let you through after seeing a passport with few questions. Others keep you at the both for five to ten minutes holding everyone else up.
  5. Aug 5, 2004 #4
    Wow, I realize it may be an inconvenience, but that's actually what I would have wanted from a boarder guard. Getting out, searching your car, really grilling you, looking around at stuff etc.

    Though I realize the facilities are really minimal and one person being checked can hold up hundreds. With all this national security money the USA is spending, I'm surprised they can't make more lanes at the boarders and employ more workers there.
  6. Aug 5, 2004 #5


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    There's a very good reason why the DMV is more strict. When you go the DMV, you're actually trying to acquire a new piece of identification -- a picture ID recognized by the government. The DMV has to make absolutely sure that you are who you say you are, because giving you a picture ID under an assumed name can open up all kinds of ways for you to wreak havoc -- you can buy things, plunder bank accounts, etc. The US driver's license is undoubtedly the most important piece of identification you'll ever have. If all you needed to get a picture ID was a photocopied birth certificate, trust me, identity theft would sure be a lot more common. Be glad that it's not sufficient.

    On the other hand, the border crossing is not really not so critical. They can look in your car very quickly and identify that you're not carrying any contraband. They can look up the name on the birth certificate, and corroborate it with other evidence such as your vehicle registration, which was valid in the US. While it's possible that you've stolen someone's car, AND photocopied their birth certificate, AND gone to Canada and come back, it's really not very likely.

    Besides, since you just got your learner's permit, I assume that you weren't driving when you crossed the border back from Canada. I assume that your parents were driving? If so, they probably have enough evidence of citizenship to pretty much just take their word that you're also a citizen.

    The reason why we have several different forms of IDs in this country (birth certificate, driver's license, SS card, passport, etc.) is because even while it might be easy to fake one form of ID, it's becomes very difficult to fake ALL of them. Generally, if you lose one form of ID, you need the other two to get a replacement.

    - Warren
  7. Aug 5, 2004 #6


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    In the state I live in it is now mandatory that you also provide your social security number when you apply for a driver's license, which they verify matches the name on the birth certificate. Someone may be able to forge a birth certificate, but to have a valid social security number that matches is a lot different. And if they already have a license issued to that social security number, it's a good indication the birth certificate is a fake.
  8. Aug 5, 2004 #7


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    when i went to the social security office to change my last name, i was greeted by two armed officers who required to go through my purse prior to me meeting with the clerk sitting behind a bullet proof window. any agency having to do with identity is not messing around...
  9. Aug 5, 2004 #8
    I'm not so much worried about people coming into the USA under a false identity. One thing that really worried me, is we had a big cooler when crossing the boarder, we weren't even asked to open it up, or to open up our glove compartment or anything. I could have easily hidden several pounds of cocaine, heroin, meth, marijuana, etc. in that cooler, hell, it could have been anthrax or guns. With the ID thing, it seems that most anyone who wanted to could get a single fake form of ID and get into the USA with it, I mean, teenage kids can get fake ID's that are often of relatively good quality, imagine what some terrorist cell could do, I'm sure document forgery isn't that big of a deal.
  10. Aug 5, 2004 #9
    The problem doesn't seem to be lack of lanes at the borders, more the fact that they don't open those lanes up.

    Do you cross the border often? If you do, and you've never caused trouble and came back when you said you would, they're usually easier on you.

    Their harder on you during holidays and at night. They usually have two people working a lane, one to check your trunk and back-seats and also one to ask you the questions.

    You'll move quicker if you follow the procedures too, like rolling up to the booth with your Windows down, and glasses off.

    But you weren't hiding those things.
  11. Aug 6, 2004 #10


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    Smuggling these things in isn't all that difficult, anyway. You can dock a fairly large yacht in front of my house, unload it in the middle of the night, and give me a small cut. Not that I actually do this, but the point is that any house with its own dock can be used pretty easily and the boat will never be checked by anyone.
  12. Aug 6, 2004 #11
    When I crossed the boarder, all of the lanes were opened.

    It was the first time me and my brother had ever been to Canada, and the first time for my parents in many, many years

    I'm glad to hear that usually at night and during holidays cars are checked, but still, it seems too easy for a terrorist to get through during rush-hour or something.

    I wasn't hiding those things, but it doesn't mean I couldn't have been.

    Just because one could smuggle them easily, it doesn't mean people at the boarders should just give up on trying to stop some of it.
  13. Aug 7, 2004 #12
    Welcome to the Great White North!

    You're lucky. I've seen 4 lanes open, but that's it.

    I just came back today. I went through customs and there were quite a few people there getting checked. Most of them were Indian.

    But you weren't, so the border guard let you through, made the line faster and you caused no harm.

    What's there to complain about?

    They do catch people. They tell a lot by looking at you. I'm sure they do racial profiling too.

    If they were to check everyone, waiting times would be over 4 hours on weekends. For people like you who rarely cross the border that's not a problem.

    For people that travel a lot - it is.
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