Michigan has decided to offer an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), which its citizens can use instead of a passport for quick trips into Canada. Like the newer passports, the enhanced driver’s license has a radio frequency identification chip to provide stronger identification, so it is WHTI-compliant for land and sea trips to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. The final phase of the WHTI goes into effect June 1, 2009. After that date, you will need a passport or an enhanced driver’s license to cross the border. Currently, Michigan is one out of only four states to offer the EDL.
However, it’s important to remember that, like the new passport card, the EDL won’t work for air travel. That’s why it’s best to only use it in place of a passport for quick jaunts across the border by car. For extended stays, a passport is still best, even if you’re driving. After all, if something were to come up and you needed to fly home quickly, you would want to have a passport, wouldn’t you?
Remember, the new rules for border crossing go into effect on June 1, so if you’re a frequent international traveler, you’d better apply for passport, quick!
If you apply for a passport with regular processing, you should allow 2 to 3 months for it to arrive, just to be on the safe side. If you order through the government with expedited processing, expect to wait at least 3 weeks. However, faster passport processing service is available through private passport expediting companies. These companies hand-deliver your passport to the US Passport Agency for processing-it’s basically the equivalent of being whisked to the front of the line, so you can get your passport processed in as little as 24 hours.
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