The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reached an agreement with the state of Michigan to issue enhanced driver licesenses. Washington and New York are already issuing the documents that are acceptable alternative document for crossing the United States’ land and sea borders.
The new documents are called for under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires all citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality to enter or depart the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.
The EDL uses a long-range RFID chip that can be read from 15 to 20 feet away. The chip contains no information other than a number that acts as a pointer to a record on a secure database that will contain the cardholder’s photo and other biographic information.
As a cardholder approaches the border crossing, the card is placed on the dashboard and is read as the car approaches the checkpoint. In theory, by the time the car pulls up to the border official, he will already have reviewed the information and determined whether the driver has viable credentials to cross the border.
The state of Michigan will develop an enhanced driver’s license that will provide residents, who voluntarily apply and qualify, with a document that is acceptable for use at U.S. land and sea ports. The enhanced driver’s license will cost more than a standard Michigan state driver’s license and will include security features similar to a U.S. passport and passport card.
Applicants for the enhanced driver’s license must provide proof of citizenship, identity, and residence. Michigan’s enhanced driver’s licenses will be designed consistent with the requirements of REAL ID.
Washington, Vermont, Arizona, and New York all have agreements in place with DHS to issue the documents.