Frequently asked questions: EDL/EID
The enhanced driver license (EDL) and enhanced ID card (EID) are compliant with the REAL ID Act. For more information see: Washington State has met all requirements to comply with REAL ID Act (wordpress.com)
Getting enhanced driver licenses/ID cards (EDL/EID)
Can I use my EDL/EID to enter Canada and return to the U.S.?
Yes. By land or by sea only. For more information about:
Can I use my EDL to board a plane?
Yes, for domestic flights but it's not accepted for international travel.
How long will it take to get my EDL/EID?
You should receive your EDL/EID within 2-3 weeks after your application is approved.
Can I get an EDL/EID if I have a green card or work visa?
No, only United States citizens who can provide proof of citizenship are eligible for an EDL/EID.
Do I need to pass the knowledge or driving tests to get an enhanced driver license?
- If you want an EDL for your first WA driver license, you must pass both the knowledge and driving test.
- If you already have a valid driver license from WA or another state, you don't need to pass the knowledge or driving test unless you have a medical or physical condition that indicates testing is required.
- If you have an expired driver license from another state, you must pass the both the knowledge and driving test.
Can I get an EDL/EID if I live outside of Washington?
No, you must be a resident of Washington State and show us proof of residency when you apply.
Can I apply for an EDL/EID online or by mail?
No, you must apply in person at one of our driver licensing office locations so you can be interviewed by our staff, provide documents to prove your citizenship, identity, and residence, and have your photograph taken.
Can I get an enhanced driver license if I have a license from another state but am living in Washington while on active military service?
Yes, you must surrender your out of state license, be a resident of Washington State, and be able to show us proof of residency and citizenship when you apply.
What documents do I need to get my EDL/EID?
When you apply for your EDL/EID, you must establish (or re-establish) your identity, U.S. citizenship, and WA residence.
Security and privacy
What security features does the EDL/EID have?
The EDL/EID is designed with enhancements that are industry best practices for security, including:
- An icon on the front of the card to indicate it is an EDL/EID.
- A machine readable zone like a bar code on the back of the card that can be scanned at the border like a passport.
- A radio frequency identification (RFID) tag to speed identification checks at border crossings. For more information about RFID tags, see the "Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)" section on this page.
- A security sleeve to protect the RFID tag from being read when the card isn't being used for border crossing.
What about data security?
We work hard to keep your personal information secure by:
- Encrypting personal identifying information transmitted between Washington State and the border agent.
- Using a dedicated and secure circuit to transmit the unique reference number embedded in your EDL/ID to the Customs and Border Protection network.
- Using a closed and secure network design, including firewalls.
- Limiting and controlling access to the network, network equipment, and data centers.
- Recognizing the network address of an information query as a legitimate requestor and rejecting requests from all unrecognized network addresses.
Does the EDL/EID card transmit my personal information?
No. The RFID tag embedded in your card doesn't contain any personal identifying information, just a unique reference number. Plus, the tag doesn't have a power source and cannot transmit data. An RFID reader at the border crossing station sends radio waves to the tag in your card and collects the reference number so it can be matched to our records to verify the information printed on the front of your card.
Who has access to the personal information I give when I apply for an EDL/EID?
Only Department of Licensing employees who have passed a thorough background check have access to your personal information. By law, we cannot share this information with anyone unless we are required by court order to release the information to a law enforcement agency.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
What is RFID?
Radio Frequency Identification is a wireless technology that stores and retrieves data remotely. An RFID system typically includes an RFID tag with a microchip and antenna embedded in a card or other item, an RFID reader, and a database. To learn more, see What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
How does it work?
- The RFID tag embedded in your EDL/EID contains a unique reference number. At the border crossing station, an RFID reader uses electromagnetic waves like the waves coming to your car radio to energize the tag and collect this reference number.
- The reader converts the radio waves reflected back from the RFID tag into digital information and transmits it to the Customs and Border Protection network. Data encryption, secure networks, and firewalls protect the information while it is being transmitted.
- The reference number is compared to our records to verify that your identity matches the information printed on the front of your EDL/EID card.
Does the EDL/EID use a special kind of RFID tag?
To provide added security and convenience when crossing the border, an ultra-high frequency passive vicinity RFID tag is embedded in each EDL/EID. We use this type of tag because:
- Ultra-high frequencies typically offer better range and can transfer data faster.
- Passive RFID tags are more secure because they don't have a power source, and cannot transmit information until they get power from the RFID reader.
- Vicinity RFID tags are faster and easier to use because they can be read from several feet away from the reader.
Why does my EDL/EID card need an RFID tag?
To speed up identification checks at the border, the federal government requires RFID technology in identification cards used to re-enter the United States. To meet this federal requirement and follow best practices for card security, each EDL/EID contains an RFID tag like the one used in U.S. passports.
Are there any laws against reading the radio frequency identification (RFID) tag in my EDL/EID without my permission?
Yes, RCW 19.300: Electronic communication devices makes it a Class C felony to intentionally read, capture, or possess information from a person's Enhanced Driver License/ID Card without that person's knowledge or consent.
Can I turn off the radio frequency identification (RFID) tag?
No, tampering with or deactivating the RFID tag embedded in your EDL/EID will invalidate the card so it cannot be used for border crossing.
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