Enhanced Driver's Licenses:

What travel managers and agents should know

Enhanced Driverss Licenses (EDL) are now being issued or will be issued by six states: Washington State, New York, Michigan, Vermont, California and Arizona. The EDL can be used by U.S. citizens for entering the U.S. at land and sea ports of entry instead of a passport card or book.

A Briggs recommends that all regular international travelers who reside in one of the issuing states apply for an EDL. 

Washington State is the first state to issue the license, New York State is the second and the others states are following. 

The EDL can be used exactly like the new passport card now issued by the U.S. State Department; that is, it can be used in lieu of the passport card or passport book for entering and leaving the U.S. ONLY for land and sea crossings.   U.S. citizens traveling by air to any international destination must have a passport book as the traditional passport. 

You cannot use an EDL or a passport card for international air travel to any destination out of the U.S, including Canada and Mexico. 

Washington State has ads available for use online in the public domain. The purpose of the ads is to promote the use of the EDL for persons who will cross into Canada from Washington State. Here is one of the ads:

Only U.S. citizens can apply for the EDL. When doing so, citizens must present proof of citizenship as a part of the driver's license process application process. The cost is $25 to $30 higher than the regular driver's license. The EDL gives the holder the right to drive a vehicle, it proves the identity of the holder, and it proves the U.S. citizenship of the holder. For more information, contact the DMV in the issuing state. Applicants for an EDL must be a legal resident of the state in which they are applying for an EDL. Citizens of states not issuing an EDL cannot obtain one and must apply for either a passport card or a passport book.

 Because the passport card is restricted in use for crossing borders only by land and sea and cannot be used for international air travel, A Briggs recommends securing a passport book – the traditional passport.

 The Department of Homeland Security claims EDLs will make it quicker and easier to cross the border back into the United States because they will contain

  • A vicinity Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that will signal a computer to pull up your biographic and biometric data for the CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] Officer as you pull up to the border, and

  • A Machine Readable Zone or barcode that the CBP officer can read electronically if RFID isn't available.

No personally identifiable information will be stored on the EDL's RFID chip or be transmitted by the EDL. The EDL uses a unique identification number which will link to the information contained in a secure database. This number will not contain any personal information.


For more information, contact A Briggs at (800) 806-0581