News Releases

October 04, 2007

Governor Douglas and Homeland Security Secretary Sign MOA on Enhanced Drivers Licenses

Burlington, Vt. – Governor Jim Douglas and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today signed a Memorandum of Agreement on pursuing Enhanced Drivers Licenses (EDL) as an alternative to the passport requirement for entrance into the country at land and sea ports of entry imposed by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Governor Douglas said he was pleased to welcome Secretary Chertoff to Vermont to highlight this important agreement and the groundbreaking pilot project. For several years, Vermont has been focused on crafting a balanced approach to the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

“There is great promise in driver’s licenses that are enhanced to satisfy the WHTI requirements and we’re pleased to participate in this innovative project,” the Governor said

EDLs will be optional and issued by the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) through a secure process and include technology that makes cross border travel more expeditious. Perhaps most importantly, the Governor said, an EDL will provide Vermonters with a low cost, convenient alternative to the passport. Currently it costs $97 to apply for a passport the first time plus the cost of getting your photo taken. For Vermonters who want a secure document to use at the U.S.- Canadian border, that is a significant expense.

“When you apply for an EDL you’ll walk out of a DMV office that day with a temporary license that allows you to drive your car, and a few days later you’ll get your permanent EDL in the mail,” Governor Douglas said. “All for about $15-$20 more than the cost of a regular driver’s license. And you’ll never have to go to a court house or interact with a federal agency.”

Officials from Vermont are also encouraging the Department of Homeland Security (DHC) to approve similar enhanced licenses as an alternative to the Canadian passport. From Vermont’s perspective this is a critical component of maintaining the strong cultural and economic relationships with Quebec and other Canadian provinces, the Governor said.

The new EDL should be available by the Fall of 2008.


Enhanced Driver’s License MOA Signing Burlington DMV, Sept. 26, 2007


Ø The chip embedded in the EDL will not contain personal information so no one will be able to “hack” it to acquire information for identity theft. The chip alerts the boarder agent that Vermont has verified the license holder’s background. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure background checks are done correctly.

Ø The face of the card will include the name, date of birth, gender, unique ID number, photo, address, signature, issuance/expiration date and citizenship. Much of the same information as a passport.

Ø The EDL will satisfy all land and sea boarder documentation needs for Canada, Mexico and U.S provinces. Anyone taking a plane into Canada and Mexico will still need a passport.

Ø Washington State is doing a similar pilot project, and other states are interested. If EDL takes off, DHS will consider EDL for future domestic travel ID purposes. No official decision on this has been made.

Ø The Washington State Pilot is pursuant to a March 2007, Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) the Secretary of Homeland Security signed with Governor Gregoire of Washington State. Vermont is the second such state to officially enter into this kind of agreement. Washington State will issue the first EDL in January 2008.

Ø Arizona is also committed to producing EDLs; DHS has commenced discussions with several other border states to develop EDL projects, including Michigan, New York, Texas and California.

Ø DHS has also met with Canadian provincial and federal officials to pursue enhanced driver’s licenses as an alternative to the Canadian passport. British Columbia (BC) is the furthest along, though many others are interested. BC has a draft business plan which was submitted to the Government of Canada and shared with DHS.

Ø WHTI stems from a 9/11 Commission recommendation mandated in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The law requires all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, to have a secure, verifiable document that denotes identity and citizenship for entry into the United States.

Ø WHTI is not strictly about security. WHTI will have considerable facilitation benefits because CBP officers currently must inspect over 8,000 different types of documents issued by state and local entities when making admissibility determinations at land and seaports. Based on DHS testing and its experience with its trusted traveler programs, DHS expects that each application for admission will be more efficient and travelers will move through the primary inspection process more quickly than they do today.

Source: Office of the Governor
Last Updated at: October 04, 2007 16:33:44