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Enhanced Driver License (EDL)

What is an Enhanced Driver License (EDL)?

It is an optional travel document that also serves as a NYS Driver’s License that will be accepted as an alternative to a passport for all land and sea travel between the United State, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. An EDL is valid for 8 years, the same as a regular NYS Driver’s License.

Who is Eligible for an EDL?

Any applicant who can provide proof of identity, NYS residence and US citizenship is eligible. EDL’s are also available to those who qualify for a CDL or motorcycle license. Enhanced Non-Driver ID cards are available as well.

Is the EDL Allowed for Air Travel?

Yes, but EDL’s are only valid for domestic air travel within the United States. An EDL, like a regular Driver’s License or Non-Driver ID, is acceptable as proof of identity for boarding a plane. If you plan to fly internationally, you will also need a passport.

Does the EDL look Different from the current NYS Driver's License?

The EDL does look like a regular NYS Driver’s License, though it is thicker due to a chip installed within it. This chip provides a coded number to border agents. No personal identifying information is stored or is available through this card. There is also a US flag icon on the face of the card, indicating US citizenship.

How long does it take to get an EDL?

It takes approximately two weeks from the date your application is processed for you to receive your license in the mail. However, the Auto Bureau will provide you with a temporary license that will suffice until your new EDL arrives.

What Documents do Children Need for Travel?

Children under the age of 16 will continue to need to present proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, for land and sea travel. Border Patrol also asks that the child also have a parent present, or a notarized letter from a parent giving permission to travel across the border. An EDL is not required, though Enhanced Non-Driver IDs are available for children should they want one. Enhanced Learner’s Permits are also available, and the “Enhancement” will roll over to the teen’s Driver’s License when they are eligible.

Are There Other Options for Travel Documents Besides the EDL?

Yes, there are other options. You can get a US Passport book that is valid for 10 years and allows for land, sea and air travel anywhere in the world. It costs $110.00 and a mandatory $25 processing fee. You can also apply for a Passport card, which is valid for 10 years and allows for land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It costs $30 and a mandatory $25 processing fee. You can also apply for a Nexus card, which is valid for 5 years after a background check and interview. It is good for land and sea travel only and costs $50.  You can apply for a passport or passport easily through the Erie County Clerk’s Office at 92 Franklin St., Buffalo.

What Do I Need to Apply?

Download a Printable Checklist

Proof of Citizenship (Must present ONE of these):

  • Valid US Passport
  • Original or Certified copy of US Birth Certificate with a raised seal (Not a Hospital Cert.)
  • Original Certificate of Naturalization
  • Original Certificate of Citizenship
  • Original DOS Consular report of birth abroad


Proof of Identity:

Must present existing New York State Driver’s License

or 6 Points of Identity


Social Security:  Social Security Card


Proof of NYS Residency (Must present TWO of these Original proofs):

  • Utility bill with name and address of applicant issued within 120 days ex: telephone, electric, water
  • Original Credit Card statement on letterhead issued within 120 days
  • Bank statement issued within the last 120 days
  • Voter Registration Notification Card issued within one year
  • Property Deed
  • Proof of Current Mortgage or Residential Lease issued within one year
  • Property or School Tax Bills or Receipts (for the current year). Must reflect
  • current address both on mailing portion and portion stating what property is being taxed.
  • Federal or New York State Income Tax W-2 (with SSN) issued within one year
  • Annual Social Security Statement for the current year
  • Selective Service Card
  • Jury Duty Notice issued within one year
  • Current Proof of Homeowners/Renters insurance (Policy, Proof of Claim)
  • NYS Pistol Permit
  • NYS Professional License
  • NY Certificate of Title
  • Photo College ID with Transcript issued within one year
  • Report Card with Photo ID
  • Current Proof of Health Insurance coverage (with address pre-printed)
  • Federal or NYS Income Tax or Earning Statement (1099, 1098)
  • Unemployment Benefit Statement issued within one year
  • Welfare Benefit Statement
  • SSI Award Statement
  • Assisted Living or Nursing Home Statement
  • Retirement Statement
  • Military Orders that are still in effect
  • Cancelled Check (with preprinted name and address) issued within 120 days
  • Computer Printed Pay Stub (with name and address) issued within 120 days
  • Life Insurance Policy or Current Statement issued within 120 days with address