Border Boaters: Enhance Your Driver's License
Nicole Palya Wood
Headed for the Canadian border by boat or with a boat in tow this summer? Well, no matter how you check into our neighboring country, you’ll need very specific identification. If you live in Michigan, New York, Vermont, or the State of Washington, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has made border crossing a bit easier.
That’s because part of a plan to promote post 9/11 travel, called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, has paved the way for U.S. states and Canadian provinces to develop what is called an Enhanced Driver’s License or EDL. This allows the license-holder to cross the international border by boat or on land without a U.S. passport. Applicants must prove U.S. citizenship and residency in the particular state. Enhanced IDs are also available for non-drivers and for youth under 16.
The EDL could cut the inconvenience, expense and advance notice required to obtain a passport in anticipation of a trip across the border. Other states are expected to follow suit in the 2013 legislative sessions, according to BoatU.S. President Margaret Podlich.
“Legislation has been introduced in Ohio; and currently Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho, New Hampshire, and Maine are in the process of developing their own EDL programs,” Podlich said. “As states use new identification technology, we hope it will reduce the time boaters spend dealing with security requirements and increase the time they have to enjoy being on the water with our northern neighbors.”
Podlich added that the EDLs cost less than a passport and eliminate the need to carry yet another document on your boat. Boaters are, however, still required to follow the standard procedure when checking in to Canada or the U.S.
To obtain an Enhanced Driver’s License, visit: http://www.getyouhome.gov/html/EDL_map.html.