2009-02-27 / Top Stories

Titus: Extra ID Needed To Cross US Border

Summer will be here before we know it and many New Yorkers are already making plans to travel outside the United States. Beginning June 1 a change in federal law will require most U.S. citizens to present a valid passport or other approved document to enter the United States at all land and sea border crossings between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

If you are planning to travel to any of these destinations by land or sea, an enhanced driver license (EDL) or enhanced non-driver photo ID card (ENDID) will be an acceptable form of identification to enter the U.S. The fee for the enhanced card is $30.00 in addition to any fees required for your driver license or non-driver photo identification card transaction. To calculate the cost of your EDL or ENDID, visit https://harmonia.dmv.state.ny.us/edlcalc/.

You can obtain the new license at any New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office that processes driver license transactions. You must apply in person. You can wait to get an EDL or ENDID when your current license or ID expires, or you may apply for an EDL as part of an early renewal that extends the expiration date of your current license.

All license classes, including commercial and motorcycle, can be converted to an EDL. It can serve as both your driver license and the necessary documentation for the specified land and sea travel. The EDL looks similar to a standard license but contains several features to distinguish it from current New York State documents - it contains an American flag image and has the word "Enhanced" on the front, and contains a machine-readable zone on the back. It also has a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, a requirement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that can help to expedite traffic and reduce the environmental effects of traffic at border crossings. Border equipment can recognize a RFID tag from as far as 30 feet away.

To apply for an EDL or ENDID, you must provide your Social Security card, proof of identity, proof of U.S. citizenship and New York State residency. A complete list of documentation that can be used as proof can be found at www.nydmv.state.ny.us/edl-faqs.- htm#proof. After you complete your application it will take approximately two weeks to receive your document in the mail, the same amount of time it takes to receive a regular driver license or photo ID card.

Another option for land and sea border travel is the U.S. passport card. The wallet size passport card is convenient and less expensive than the passport book, and cost $45.00 for the first time adult applicant. A new U.S. passport can cost more than $100.00. It is important to note that a U.S. passport card, EDL or ENDID will not take the place of a passport book for international travel by air.

Enhanced driver licenses will help ease long lines at our New York-Canada border crossings, which is a plus for the upstate economy. Currently, more than 468,750 New York State jobs are supported by U.S.-Canada trade.

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