Update: No federal announcement about new identification requirements for air travel

December 31, 2015

Starting January 10, 2016, standard Washington state driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted as a standalone identity document at a limited number of secure federal facilities.

This change does not affect commercial airline travel. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicated they would announce when and how REAL ID enforcement would affect air travel at commercial airports by the end of 2015. DHS has not announced this information and has not provided updated information about when they plan to. While many media reports indicate this change will affect air travel in January, in April, or “sometime in 2016,” no information released from DHS supports these reports.

Even under REAL ID, most services provided by the federal government do not require identification to be presented, and that will not change. Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will still have access to federal courts, Social Security offices, federal health care facilities, national parks and other public benefits.

The Department of Licensing this week was provided further clarity from the federal General Services Administration, the agency that manages logistics at most federal facilities. They indicate that there are five federal facilities in Washington State that will be subject to REAL ID enforcement—requiring federally acceptable identification documents for entry into these facilities, or requiring secondary screening for persons that do not have a federally acceptable document. The facilities are:

  • U.S. Department of Justice – Seattle Immigration Court, 1000 2nd Ave.
  • Non-customer service federal offices in the 5th and Yesler Building, 300 5th, Seattle
  • Non-customer service areas of Seattle Federal Building, 1200 6th
  • Non-customer service areas of Spokane U.S. Courthouse, 920 W. Riverside Ave.
  • Non-customer service areas of Vancouver Federal Building, 500 W. 12th

However, according to the GSA, a facility security committee could adopt “alternative access control procedures” for these five facilities that would allow individuals to use a standard driver license to enter. It will become important to contact these types of secure federal facilities before visiting if you do not have one of the types of identification documents listed below:

  • Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Card
  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Transportation worker identification credential (TWIC card)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card

This change on January 10 will not have significant impacts on most Washington residents. Washingtonians are encouraged to investigate all of their options for obtaining a federally acceptable ID document like a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, state Enhanced Driver License/ID card, or other ID documents that will be accepted by federal agencies to enter secure federal facilities.

REAL ID was passed by Congress in 2005 and has seen a number of implementation delays. Washington is among 24 states that have been operating with a REAL ID compliance extension because our regular driver licenses and ID cards do not meet all 41 different REAL ID requirements. In October, 2015, DHS denied our state’s request for another compliance extension which makes Washington state subject to the REAL ID enforcement schedule.

Over the past several years, Washington’s driver licenses and ID cards have met many of the REAL ID requirements (21 out of 41) by adopting national best practices for driver license and ID card security—done regardless of the REAL ID Act. Washington is one of five states that issue Enhanced Driver Licenses and ID cards, which are valid for federal purposes.


Enhanced driver licenses can use new lane at Peace Arch border crossing

April 15, 2011

If you’re traveling back to the U.S. from Canada at the Peace Arch crossing in Blaine, get ready to save even more time with an enhanced driver license or ID card.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has dedicated a “Ready Lane” at the Peace Arch port of entry for travelers entering the U.S. with a RFID-enabled card. These documents include: 

The new Ready Lane will be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. In order to use this dedicated lane, all passengers over the age of 16, must present one of the approved RDIF-enabled travel cards.


Even after Olympics, strong demand continues for Enhanced Driver License

March 8, 2010

By Tony Sermonti

March marks a milestone in the Department of Licensing’s Enhanced Driver License/ID Card program. In a little over two years, more than 150,000 Washington residents can now say they have an enhanced license or ID card.

Even after the conclusion of the winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., more than 2,700 enhanced licenses were issued during the first week of March.

The Enhanced Driver License satisfies new federal requirements for re-entry into the U.S. at land and sea borders between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. This new requirement, part of the federal Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, took effect June 1, 2009.

Washington is one of four states that issue Enhanced Driver Licenses or ID cards. The fee is $15 to upgrade from a valid driver license.

For more info:
Get an EDL – http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/edlsteps.html
Federal Travel Requirements – http://www.getyouhome.gov/html/lang_eng/eng_edl.html


Enhanced licenses and IDs good as gold at border

February 16, 2010

Blaine border crossingBy Brad Benfield

The Olympics are here and staff at DOL are excited to see our successful Enhanced Driver License and ID Card program fulfill its promise as a faster, easier and less expensive alternative to a U.S. Passport for Washington residents visiting the Winter Games.

Demand for the EDL has been very strong over the past few months. As the Games approached, DOL was issuing more than 2,500 of the cards every week. Today, 140,000 Washington residents carry enhanced driver licenses or ID cards.

It’s very satisfying to be living through the moments Governor Gregoire envisioned several years ago when she met with British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. They discussed common concerns about promoting trade and tourism and doing everything they could to keep traffic flowing smoothly at our shared border during the Olympics this month and the upcoming Vancouver B.C. Paralympic Winter Games in March.

But the Enhanced Driver License and ID Card program isn’t over. After all of the Olympic and Paralympic events are done, the medals all have been awarded and the athletes all have gone home, enhanced driver licenses and ID cards will continue to serve Washington residents traveling by land and sea to Canada, Mexico and other popular travel destinations in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, our model has been adopted by many other states and Canadian provinces now issuing enhanced licenses and ID cards of their own.


Traveling to the Olympics?

January 4, 2010

By Brad Benfield

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games are just around the corner, and many Washington residents planning on driving to the Games are making our state’s Enhanced Driver Licenses and ID Cards their border crossing document of choice for traveling to the Games.

Demand for the enhanced licenses and IDs during the last week of 2009 jumped by 35 percent over the week before. If you are interested in getting an Enhanced Driver License or ID Card, make sure you review requirements for citizenship, identity, and residency before arriving at one of the 18 DOL driver licensing offices that issue them.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection also has a comprehensive website to help you learn more about what to expect at the border and other border-crossing identification options.


New pre-screening times for EDL applicants

July 17, 2009

(Updated July 20 at 10:36am, PST)

DOL is adapting to surges in demand for Enhanced Driver Licenses, and demand remains high after the June 1 WHTI deadline.  So far, nearly 80-thousand Washingtonians are enjoying the convenience EDL offers to land and sea border travelers.

To help get more customers served, the busiest DOL offices that issue Enhanced Driver Licenses have been pre-screening EDL applicants waiting outside beginning at 7:15 am. The are 9 offices that issue EDL’s that are conducting pre-screening activities prior to the office opening. They are Kennewick, Lacey, Mt Vernon, Parkland, Renton, Seattle West, Smokey Point, Spokane, Wenatchee. Pre-screening times vary from office to office, see specific start times below.

Outside prescreening begins at 8 am in:

  • Wenatchee
  • Spokane
  • Parkland

Outside prescreening begins at 7:45 am in:

  • Smokey Point
  • Mt Vernon
  • Kennewick

Outside prescreening begins at 7:15 in:

  • West Seattle
  • Renton
  • Lacey

There is no early prescreening in North Vancouver because volumes there remain reasonable.

EDLs remain available by appointment only in Bothell, Seattle Downtown, Port Angeles, and Bellingham (Bellingham will accept walk in EDL applicants beginning July 28, 2009).

As a reminder: You must bring proof of identity, U.S. citizenship, and WA residency to apply for EDL. Please visit dol.wa.gov for a list of acceptable documents, and remember to BRING ORIGINALS.  No EDL applications will be accepted after 2pm on weekdays or noon on Saturdays.

Summer is typically the busiest time of year in Licensing Service Offices, so come early and come prepared.  Also, you can do many DOL services online, so log onto dol.wa.gov to see if you can skip the trip!


This just in: Latest wait times at DOL offices during EDL crunch

July 9, 2009

Early indications are starting to show that demand for Washington’s Enhanced Driver License is returning to normal levels following the large upward spike that followed the June 1 implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

That’s not say that some offices aren’t experiencing unusually long wait times.  They are.  In short, a lot of people are opting for the convenience and affordability of an EDL instead of a passport.

Now, here’s a look at the latest average wait time numbers.  These figures represent average wait times at DOL offices on July 7, 2009:

  • Bellingham:  58 minutes
  • Bothell:  1 hour, 4 minutes
  • Everett:  46 minutes
  • Kennewick:  57 minutes
  • Lacey:  1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Lynnwood:  39 minutes
  • Mt. Vernon:  60 minutes
  • Parkland:  1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Renton:  3 hours, 2 minutes
  • Seattle (west):  53 minutes
  • Seattle (east):  2 hours, 4 minutes
  • Smokey Point:  1 hour, 3 minutes
  • Spokane:  45 minutes
  • Vancouver (north): 41 minutes
  • Wenatchee:  48 minutes

 
EDL SCREENINGS UNDERWAY BEFORE DOORS OPEN

In a July 6 news release,  DOL announced immediate actions to reduce wait times at several locations.  Those actions included, “Screening applicants waiting outside beginning at 7:15 am.”

Since that news release went out,  we’ve learned some customers thought DOL would open office doors at 7:15am.  That’s not the case.  The screenings are taking place outside and prior to regularly-scheduled business hours.

The outside screenings are taking place at DOL offices in:

  • Lacey
  • Kennewick
  • Mount Vernon
  • Parkland
  • Renton
  • Smokey Point
  • Spokane
  • West Seattle

Due to low volume, the DOL’s Wenatchee office is no longer offering screenings prior to normal business hours.


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