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What Is an Enhanced Driver’s License? 

  • Driver's License
  • Gerard Stevens
  • 6 minutes

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The process of getting or updating a driver’s license varies by state. But, there are other documents that you can use as driver’s licenses in some states and even let you fly! One is the REAL-ID, provided by the DMV, following federal regulations. And the other is the Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL).  So, what is an enhanced driver’s license or enhanced ID? 

In nations that accept it, an EDL is a driver’s license and passport card combined, enabling international sea and land travel but not air travel. For automatic identification of the card and its possessor, the card contains machine-readable RFID and barcode.  

So, how can you apply for an EDL? Which all states offer this driver’s license? How does it differ from a REAL-ID? Continue reading our blog to know more about an enhanced driver’s license.  

What is an enhanced driver’s license?  

enhanced driver's license in New York state
Image courtesy: https://dmv.ny.gov/

State-issued enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs) serve as US identification and citizenship documents. EDLs are an affordable and practical choice for entering the United States via Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean via land or sea. You can use it instead of a passport at border crossings.  

An EDL is Federal REAL-ID compliant. You can use it to board a domestic airplane (inside the US), enter military bases, and some federal facilities. Due to the following factors, EDLs make it simpler for citizens to enter the country from abroad: 

  • As you approach the border inspection station, a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip will signal to retrieve your biographical and biometric information for the CBP officer. 
  • If RFID isn’t available, the CBP officer can read a barcode or machine-readable zone (MRZ) instead. 

What do you get with an EDL?  

Along with the enhanced driver’s license, you will receive the following.  

  • Details on how to carry, use, and safeguard your license. 
  • A shielded sleeve that restricts anyone from reading your license. 

The card’s RFID chip does not store any personally identifiable information (PII), and it cannot transfer data electronically. Instead, a unique identification number on the card connects to data in a private DHS database. PII is not present in this number. 

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What states have enhanced driver’s licenses? 

You can apply for an EDL based on your city. it is currently available in these five states. 

  • Washington 
  • Vermont  
  • New York 
  • Michigan 
  • Minnesota  

How to get an enhanced driver’s license 

Where you live determines how to apply for an enhanced driver’s license. In most participating states, applying for an EDL is similar to applying for a regular driver’s license if you match the residency requirements.  

Things to note 

  • Before getting your license, you must successfully pass the written knowledge and driving skills tests. However, you needn’t require to complete a driver’s education if you’re 18 and older. However, we recommend that you do it.  
  • Suppose you have a valid driver’s license. In that case, you can apply for the EDL after renewing it or extending the expiry date.  
  • You must provide the required documents that prove your identity, citizenship, residency, and Social Security.  
  • Present valid and legal proofs if your name changes. 
  • There shouldn’t be any violations, suspensions, revocations, or denials on your driving record that prevent you from driving a vehicle.  

Then have your biometrics and pictures taken, and sign the required declaration documents. After applying, you will get a temporary operator’s permit or a temporary enhanced ID. This permit is only good for identification but can’t be used to cross borders. 


How long does it take to get an enhanced driver’s license? 

You will receive your EDL via mail within two to three weeks, which is good for up to four years. The enhanced license usually has the same duration as your standard driver’s license.  

How much is an enhanced driver’s license? 

An enhanced ID costs more than a regular driver’s license. The following are the rates of EDL in different states. 

State   Rate of enhanced driver’s license 
Washington  $113 
Vermont   $30 
New York  $30 plus the fees of a regular driver’s license 
Michigan  $45 
Minnesota   $51 in addition to $15 for your Class A driver’s license 

Is REAL-ID an enhanced driver’s license? 

No. REAL-IDs do not require the additional documents that enhanced IDs do, such as citizenship proof, photographic identification proof, and an interview questionnaire at the time of application. Only US citizens can get enhanced IDs. 

REAL-IDs can be used for domestic flights and entering nuclear power plants and federal facilities since they meet the security requirements for identification. However, using a valid ID alone won’t let you enter the US by land or sea. 

An enhanced ID is proof of US citizenship and is more secure than a REAL-ID, making travel easier for you. You can also use this ID to enter federal facilities and domestic flights, allowing holders to enter the country by land and sea without a passport. Not only is it a driving license, but it also allows people to enter the US from Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean in a cheaper way.  

Do I need an enhanced driver’s license to fly? 

Every traveler 18 and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another approved one starting May 3, 2023, to fly by air.  

Can I get into Canada with an enhanced driver’s license? 

You can use an enhanced driver’s license for land and maritime crossings. So, you won’t be allowed to fly to Canada with an enhanced ID.  

Is it worth getting an enhanced driver’s license? 

It is a federally recognized document that enables you to return to the United States from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean by land or sea. Although not essential, the enhanced license is a great substitute for a regular license because it is particularly useful for business trips, vacations, or short trips. 

enhanced driver's license

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