In January 2008, The Washington State Department of Licensing will begin issuing a new Enhanced Driver License and Identification card (EDL/ID). The EDL/ID provides travelers with a low cost, convenient alternate travel document to a passport for entry at land and sea ports between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and Caribbean.

The EDL/ID is voluntary. The cost is $15 more than a driver license or identification card and you can make an appointment to apply by calling any of the 11 participating Licensing Service Office locations throughout the state. Applicants must provide documentation to prove U.S. citizenship, identity and Washington State residency. They must provide their social security number and have a digital photo taken, along with an interview with a Licensing Service Representative.

The EDL/ID has similar security features to a U.S. passport, such as embedded Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and a Machine Readable Zone (MRZ). The RFID is required by the federal government to facilitate rapid identification checks at the border. The MRZ can be scanned when the RFID reader is not available at the border crossing station. The RFID tag will only have a unique reference number and will not contain personal information about the applicant.

Washington State is first in the nation to create a viable solution to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), requiring people traveling into the U.S. to present a valid passport. The requirement for air travel went into effect in January 2007, and for land and sea border crossing, the passport requirement will start in early 2008. The EDL/ID is designed to improve security and facilitate border management to address the WHTI requirements and maintain trade and tourism across our borders.

Go to www.dol.wa.gov to learn more about the Enhanced Driver License and Identification card program.