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Enhanced drivers license — a smart way to travel

March 19, 2011
By Dave Werner, Franklin County Traffic Safety Board,

Living in upstate New York has many advantages, including a short jaunt to Canada for lunch, shopping or entertainment. But for the past couple of years, re-entry into the United States from Canada has required a passport, a U.S. Passport Card, a NEXUS card or an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL). If you are under 16 years old - or under 19 and traveling with a school, religious or other youth group - a birth certificate is acceptable.

However, a passport, good for 10 years, is rather bulky, can be easily forgotten or lost, and costs $100 (plus the cost of photos). An enhanced license costs an extra $30 over the normal cost of your driver's license, or less than $4 per year over the eight years of your license. It allows you to carry a single, wallet-sized document that meets your driving identity and land and sea border crossing needs. Your EDL will always be available for those frequent or unplanned trips across the border.

The EDL contains a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag with a unique number that can be read by specialized equipment at select border-crossing locations. Border agents will read the RFID tag or scan the Machine Readable Zone on the back of the card, simplifying your border crossing.

I have been using an EDL since they first became available and find it very convenient. When going to Canada, I never have to think to bring a passport along.

New York state residents who are U.S. citizens can apply for an EDL at any Department of Motor Vehicles office. You must provide the following types of proofs:

-proof of U.S. citizenship such as a U.S. passport, a birth certificate, a Certificate of Naturalization, a Certificate of Citizenship or a U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad.

-two proofs of New York state residence, such as a utility bill and a lease agreement with your name and current address. Your New York state driver's license qualifies as one proof of residence. Other acceptable proofs include credit card or banking statements in your current name and address.

-proof of identity such as a driver license, learner permit or non-driver ID card issued by New York state.

A first-time New York state applicant will be required to show his/her original Social Security card.

An EDL can be used for air travel within the U.S. but is not good for air travel between the U.S. and other countries.


For more safe driving articles, go to the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board's website at



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