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Enhanced driver's license arrivesAPRIL 21, 2009
Convenient card to benefit Michigan's security, economy
Editor's Note: As of October 19, 2009, all Secretary of State offices offer enhanced driver's licenses and personal ID cards.
Michigan residents may begin applying for the state's new enhanced driver's license (EDL) today, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land has announced.
The optional card is convenient, affordable and the most flexible option for travelers to meet tougher federal document requirements that go into effect at America's land and sea borders on June 1, Land said at a press conference in Detroit.
The dual-purpose EDL, which serves as a driver's license and border-crossing card, will benefit Michigan's economy as well as its security, she noted.
"The enhanced driver's license promotes the smooth flow of trade and tourism between our state and Canada and aids law enforcement in its efforts to make our borders more secure," Land said. "This is the common-sense solution we have been working for years to achieve for the people of Michigan."
Enhanced driver's licenses are equipped with the latest technology to speed up border crossings and deter fraud. They cost $45 and enhanced state identification cards are $30. Applicants will receive them in two to three weeks.
The EDL eliminates the need to carry multiple ID documents when returning to the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean, Land said. It is ideal for those who may be heading to Canada, such as sportsmen, day travelers and vacationers.
"This is a very positive development for Michigan. The chamber has been advocating for enhanced driver's licenses since 2005," said Richard Blouse Jr., president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "Convenient border travel strengthens our economic partnership with Canada and is a benefit that should be extended to all border states throughout the nation."
When travelers approach an American border station in a vehicle, they simply hold up their EDL. Technology in the card allows it to be scanned from a distance. By the time travelers reach the station, security personnel will usually only need to make a quick visual check. No personal information is transmitted during this process.
Land was an early advocate of creating a higher security driver's license as an innovative way for border states to meet requirements of the federal Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) while protecting their economic interests.
Due to the relative expense and difficulty of obtaining passports -- which cost $100 and take four to six weeks to receive from the U.S. State Department -- Land and many other government and business leaders were concerned the requirement would deter many people from traveling across the border for business and tourism. The two-way trade relationship between Michigan and Canada averages more than $1 billion dollars a week.
"Thousands of our members travel across the border throughout the seasons to use the great wilderness that our Maple Leaf cousins enjoy so much. This step will make it easier and certainly more efficient for Michiganders to travel to boats, cottages and cabins dotting Ontario and other provinces," said Dennis Muchmore, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. "We congratulate Secretary Land and legislative supporters for providing this innovative solution."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security embraced the dual-purpose ID concept and has granted approval for enhanced licenses in Michigan, Washington, Vermont and New York. State legislation authorizing Land's EDL plan was passed in February 2008. The state received federal approval to proceed in October 2008.
Enhanced licenses are available to Michigan residents who also are U.S. citizens. To apply, residents may visit any Secretary of State SUPER!Center or other select branch offices. The application process is relatively easy for those who already have a current driver's license. They only need to present proof of a valid Social Security number and U.S. citizenship in addition to their driver's license.
EDLs are offered for voluntary purchase and are not required. Residents may continue to receive standard driver's licenses and state identification cards if they choose.
Land thanked the governor, Legislature and the many individuals and groups on both sides of the border whose support helped make enhanced licenses a reality in Michigan.
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