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Enhanced Driver’s License or US Passport for Minnesota?

According to this article on, Minnesotans will soon be able to purchase an enhanced driver’s license, which can be used instead of a US passport to cross the border into Mexico or Canada.

The new license will cost an extra $15 above and beyond the normal costs for getting a license in Minnesota. That makes it a much cheaper option than getting a US passport.

In an article on local ABC affiliate, Minnesota state Rep. Roger Reinert, the co-author of the bill, explained why he feels that the EDL option is important and valuable:

“Right now to cross the border, Minnesotans have to pay $100 for a passport or $45 for a passport card just to cross the border. That’s choking off economic activity and travel vital to northland communities and businesses.”

However, there are some key differences between an enhanced driver’s license and a US passport, and it’s important to know what they are so that you can make an informed decision about which document to carry.

An enhanced driver’s license is only a valid substitute for a US passport in a few specific circumstances. For example, it can be used to travel across the Canadian or Mexican border by land or sea, or to travel to and from the Caribbean by sea.

However, it can not be used for travel anywhere else. Also, unlike a passport, an enhanced driver’s license is not valid for international air travel at all. So, unless you are only planning to drive a little way into Canada, it’s a good idea to carry a US passport with you anyway. After all, what if you had to fly back?

If you need a US passport, you should apply well before you plan to leave the country. Regular passport processing takes about 6 weeks, while the government’s expedited service takes about 3 weeks. If you need it sooner, you have the option of requesting an appointment at the nearest regional Passport Agency office (if you’re in Minnesota, the closest one is in Minneapolis) or using a private passport expediter like RushMyPassport.

Of the two options for getting a last-minute passport, an expediting company is the most convenient choice. RushMyPassport will guide you through the application process and personally deliver your application to the Department of State for processing times as low as 24 hours.

Apply for your US passport now!

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2 Responses to “Enhanced Driver’s License or US Passport for Minnesota?”

  1. Barbara Manson

    Yes was wondering about a Delta flight to Florida in January and have only a Minnesota Drivers license. Is that sufficient to fly in January?

  2. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Barbara,

    Probably? Minnesota is supposed to applying for an extension, which should exempt them until at least January 10th. However, at the moment DHS is saying that there will be a 120-day “grace period” even when they do start enforcing, so you’d be advised that your ID is noncompliant but allowed to board anyway.

    Minnesota also offers enhanced driver’s licenses, and if you have one of those they are REAL ID-compliant and can be used to board a plane under the new regulations. Hope this helps!

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