Dinosaur brings extra protection to redesigned Alberta driver's licences, ID cards

Alberta drivers will notice some new changes the next time they get a driver's licence or identification card.

New features will increase security and save the government $1 million a year

A newly redesigned Alberta identification card

Albertans will see, hear and feel some new changes the next time they get a driver's licence or an identification card.

The government has redesigned provincial driver's licences and ID cards with new security features such as clear windows, laser engraving and 3D embossing. These changes will make the cards harder to counterfeit or modify. 

"Our government takes identity fraud very seriously," said Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean.

"We are the first jurisdiction in North America to integrate this combination of design and security to protect Albertans from ID theft and prevent fraud," she added in a news release Wednesday.  

Save $1 million each year

Thanks to new technology, the cards are cheaper to make and the government expects to save about $1 million annually.

Government officials say the cost of the redesign will not be released, as it is part of the contractor's confidential bidding process. The company that makes the cards is paid per unit, with the money coming out of licence renewal fees. 

The redesigned imagery of the two cards reflects Alberta's landscape and history.

The biggest change is the inclusion of an Albertosaurus, a dinosaur whose name honours Alberta, where its remains were first discovered.  

The driver's licence will feature images of Castle Mountain and the Bow River in Banff National Park. The ID card will feature the image of Alberta's provincial flower, the wild rose.

One of the new security features is 3D embossing which will allow people to feel the raised Albertosaurus image in the lower right-hand corner of the card. 

Another new safety feature is that, unlike credit cards or bank cards, the redesigned licences will make a "tin-like" sound when dropped on a hard surface.

In addition, the new cards feature:

  • three transparent windows, one of which will be in the shape of the province and contain a second, smaller photo of the cardholder. Two other clear windows will be in the shape of maple leaves.
  • a gradual "rainbow" transition of colour from one part of the card to the other.
  • "ghost" date of birth, where the security background is visible through the letters.
  • raised text on the driver's licence number, the date birth, expiry and signature.

"The new security measures in the Alberta driver's licences and identification cards will help ensure the safety and security of the public's information, " said Edmonton Police Service Deputy Chief Brian Simpson.

Current licences will be phased out through the normal renewal process as cards expire. Alberta issues about 100,000 licences each month. 

The last time licences were redesigned was in 2009.