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New identification called for when crossing U.S. borders

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Summer will be here soon and many New Yorkers are 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’s license or enhanced non−driver photo ID card will be an acceptable form of identification to enter the U.S. The fee for the card is $30 in addition to any fees required for your driver’s license or non−driver photo ID card transaction. To find the cost of your EDL or ENDID, visit https:⁄⁄harmonia.dmv.state.ny.us⁄edlcalc⁄.

You can obtain the new license at any state Department of Motor Vehicles office that processes driver’s 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’s 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 state documents.

It contains an American flag image, has the word “Enhanced” on the front and contains a machine−readable zone on the back. It also has a radio frequency identification tag, a requirement of the U.S. Homeland Security Department 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 away as 30 feet.

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

Another option for land and sea border travel is the U.S. passport card. The wallet−sized card is convenient and less expensive than the passport book and costs $45 for a first−time adult applicant. A new U.S. passport can cost more than $100. 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’s 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 state jobs are supported by U.S.−Canada trade. In 2008, Canadians made nearly 3 million visits to the state, contributing $855 million to the state’s economy. New Yorkers made nearly 2 million visits to Canada, spending $592 million.

During this tough economic time, EDLs could help ensure that commerce in upstate New York will continue to flow freely and securely, while offering a convenience for all New Yorkers who travel in North America.

For more information, visit nydmv.state.ny.us⁄edl−main.htm or call the state EDL Helpline at 518−474−9981.

Cathy Nolan

Assemblywoman

Ridgewood

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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