Almost unnoticed amidst the brouhaha over primary election results, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is celebrating the anniversary of the Enhanced Driver License (EDL).
DMV Commissioner David J. Swarts announced on Wednesday, September 16, that in the year since the “smart” licenses, which New York citizens can use instead of a U.S. passport in some cases, approximately 200,000 have obtained the document.
“The DMV began issuing EDLs not only to provide a cost effective document that met new travel requirements, but also to help facilitate commerce with our land and sea neighbors, especially Canada with which we share more than 400 miles of border and $500 billion of merchandise trade annually,” said Commissioner Swarts.
“The popularity of the EDL program continues to grow, enforcing the idea that it truly is the smart way to travel.”
The EDL was first made available on September 16, 2008, as a secure document that would meet new federal identity requirements under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that went into effect this June, for land and sea border crossings between the United States, Canada, Mexico and some nations in the Caribbean.
Each EDL is equipped with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag containing a unique number – but no personal information, much like the familiar E-ZPass. The number can be read only by specialized equipment at select border crossing locations.
Last month, nearly 55,000 travelers crossed a U.S. border using a New York-issued EDL, according to Swarts.
He noted that EDLs cost only $30 more than an ordinary driver’s license, are valid for eight years and, being wallet-sized, they are more convenient than a passport.
Customers can apply for an EDL in person at any DMV office by providing proof of U.S. citizenship, two proofs of New York State residence, proof of identity and an original Social Security card if they are a first-time applicant for a driver license in New York.
If the applicant already has a valid New York driver’s license, printed proof of their Social Security number on a W-2 form, 1099 Income Tax Earning Statement, or computer generated pay stub will be accepted.
All license classes, including commercial and motorcycle, can be converted to an EDL. Applications take less than two weeks to process.
For more information on New York State’s Enhanced Driver License program, visit DMV’s web site at www.nysdmv.com.