How to Apply for an Enhanced Driver License

By: Staff Writer August 10, 2012
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An enhanced driver license (EDL) works double-duty as a drivers license and a passport. With it you can enter the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean without needing any other proof of identification.

Unlike passports, enhanced driver licenses can be carried in a wallet, making them especially convenient for when traveling.

If you don't drive, you can instead apply for an enhanced ID (EID). It, too, serves as a passport alternative when entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, but without the option to drive.

NOTE: EDLs and EIDs are ONLY for entrance by sea or land. A regular passport is needed for when entering the U.S. by air.

Enhanced Drivers License Application Requirement

You may only apply for an EDL, or what some call a passport card, if offered by your home state.

Currently, only the four following states offer EDLs:

  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Requirements and fees vary by state, but in general you can expect some or all of the following requirements when visiting your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office:

  • Proof of state residency. Depending on your state you will either need one or two documents of proof.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship.
  • Proof of identity. In most cases, your current driver's license will suffice.
  • A valid Social Security number.
  • Proper documentation if your name has changed. Depending on the your situation, this will entail a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order.
  • Proper payment. Generally an EDL is about $30 to $40 more than a regular driver license (far cheaper than a $130 passport).

Before visiting your DMV to apply, call ahead and confirm needed documents. All states will require documents to be originals or certified copies. Photocopied documents will be rejected.

In most cases, expect two to three weeks for your EDL to be processed. Plan accordingly if you need to use it for travel.

In addition to a regular driver licenses, you may, depending on your state, also apply for an EDL for the following license types:

  • Commercial driver's license (CDL)
  • Chauffer's license
  • Intermediate driver's license
  • Motorcycle license

Do you have an enhanced drivers license or enhanced ID? How was the application process for you?

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