The Washington enhanced driver’s license (EDL) credentials are official identification documents issued by the state Department of Licensing (DOL) that come with various privileges. This enhanced ID credential serves as proof of identity and citizenship, offers standard driving privileges and can be used to travel to the United States by land and sea.

Note that the requirements to obtain an enhanced driving license are slightly stricter than those that apply for a standard driver’s license. To apply for this drivers license passport, you will have to submit your request through a DOL location that accepts EDL applications. You will be required to submit several types of documents proving your eligibility and pay a higher-than-standard fee. Note that if you already hold a standard driver’s license, you will not be required to pass the driving exams when applying for this document.

Apart from issuing enhanced driving licenses in WA, the state DOL also issues enhanced ID cards (EID), which offer the same identification and border-crossing benefits without extending any driving privileges. To apply for an enhanced identification card, you will be required to meet the same documentation requirements. Therefore, you will have to prove your U.S. citizenship and state residency. Note that you will be required to submit your paperwork and fee payments in person, since the DOL staff must verify the submitted documents immediately.

After obtaining your enhanced ID card, you can use it to re-enter the U.S. by land or sea and board domestic flights. Continue reading the sections below to learn more about applying for an enhanced DL and ID card.

What is an enhanced driver’s license in Washington?

Many drivers do not know what the EDL is. In short, the license is a sort of cross between a driver’s license and a passport card. The enhanced driver license benefits allow holders to travel to the United States without a passport, drive your motor vehicle within the states and use it for official identification purposes. However, the enhanced driver’s license states list is limited, and if you would like to travel to other international countries, you will be required to obtain a conventional passport. However, you can still travel by plane within the country with only your enhanced license to drive.

What is an enhanced ID in Washington?

If you obtain a Washington enhanced ID card, on the other hand, you will be granted the same identification and border-crossing privileges extended to holders of EDL credentials without getting any driving privileges. Therefore, if you are unable or unwilling to drive, you can apply for an EID credential instead. By doing so, you will obtain a state-issued identification and citizenship document, which will also allow you to return to the United States by land or sea. You can likewise utilize the enhanced identification card to board domestic flights.

Washington Enhanced License Eligibility Requirements

Before learning how to get an enhanced license in Washington, you will need to review the requirements for these special DOL credentials. Note that the eligibility criteria for an enhanced ID card or an EDL document are stricter than those that apply for their standard counterparts. To get your enhanced license to drive, the following requirements must apply to you:

  • You are a state resident and a U.S. citizen.
  • You are at least 18 years of age, if applying for an unrestricted enhanced driver’s license.
  • You have passed the licensing exams, if applying for an EDL credential.
  • You have collected the necessary supporting paperwork.
  • You have arranged payment for the WA enhanced driver’s license cost.

If you are applying for an enhanced driving license as a teenage driver younger than 18 years of age, the following must be true:

  • You are at least 16 years of age.
  • You have held a learner’s permit for at least six months.
  • You have completed a driver training course.
  • You have not been convicted of any traffic violations.
  • You have parental permission to apply for your credential.

The above requirement list is not all-inclusive, as it contains only the general eligibility criteria. Depending on whether you are obtaining an enhanced license or an enhanced ID card and your age when you apply, the requirements may vary to a certain degree.

Documents Needed for an Enhanced Driver’s License in Washington

Motorists wondering, “What do you need to get an enhanced driver’s license in Washington?” must note that the state DOL requires the full set of supporting paperwork, including:

Proof of U.S. citizenship:

  • A valid U.S. passport or passport card
  • A U.S. birth certificate
  • A U.S. Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship

Proof of your Social Security status:

  • A Social Security card
  • An SSA-1099 form or a W-2 form
  • A pay stub with your Social Security Number (SSN)

Two proofs of state residency:

  • A vehicle registration
  • Utility bills
  • A school transcript

Proof of identity:

  • A state-issued identification document
  • A government ID card
  • A military identification document

Proof of name change, if you have recently changed your legal name:

  • A marriage document
  • A divorce decree
  • A court order

Note: The submitted paperwork must be in its original unaltered form or as copies certified by the agency that issued them.

How to Get an Enhanced License in Washington

To obtain the Washington drivers license passport or an EID credential, you will be required to submit an in-person request through a DOL location that processes enhanced credential applications. Note that the procedure to get your enhanced ID document will vary depending on whether you are obtaining a driving license or an ID card. For instance, if you would like to apply for a WA enhanced driving license, you will first have to pass all licensing exams, provided you have not done so already and you are not simply transferring a valid out-of-state credential.

Once you meet the requirements for a travel drivers license or an enhanced identification card, you can visit a nearby EDL/EID office and complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the mandatory interview.
  2. Fill out the corresponding application form.
  3. Submit your supporting paperwork.
  4. Have your photo taken.
  5. Pay the applicable licensing fees.

Note that you will be required to arrive at the DOL location at least 90 minutes before closing time to allow for enough time for the interview and the documentation verification procedure. If you are applying for an EDL or an EID document as a teenage applicant, you must also be accompanied by a parent who will provide his or her signature on your application form. You will receive a temporary enhanced identification card or driving license before leaving the office, which you can use until you receive the permanent document by mail.

How long does it take to get an enhanced license in Washington?

After approving your Washington enhanced license application, the state DOL will manufacture it and mail it to your address on file within two to three weeks of the date you submitted your request. Note that this longer processing period for an EDL or EID credential is due to the enhanced security features included in the enhanced credential. At the moment, you cannot expedite the manufacturing process for your enhanced license to drive or ID card. However, if you do not receive it within three weeks, contact the department to inquire about the status of your credential.

Enhanced Driver License Cost in Washington

One of the last steps when applying for a Washington enhanced driver’s license is arranging payment for the applicable licensing fees. Note that the total cost of the DOL enhanced ID credentials includes an enhanced license fee in addition to the standard cost for your driving license or ID card. For instance, to get an enhanced identification card in WA, you will be required to pay a $78 fee for a six-year credential, which is $24 higher than the basic $54 ID card fee. The enhanced driving license fee is $113 for the six-year credential, which is likewise higher than the cost for a standard license.

Enhanced Licenses vs. Passports in Washington

If you are wondering about the differences between the Washington DMV enhanced license and a standard passport document, note that these two official documents are dissimilar in various aspects. First, while you must apply with a nearby DMV office to get an enhanced license, you have to go through the U.S. Department of State if you would like to get a passport. Then, even though both an enhanced credential and a passport card serve as proof of identification and citizenship, the enhanced ID card and the EDL only provide limited border-crossing privileges.

If you are planning on traveling internationally, you will need to obtain a U.S. passport. However, while a WA enhanced driving license extends standard driving privileges, you cannot utilize your U.S. passport for that purpose. When choosing whether or not to obtain an enhanced credential, evaluate your current and future needs of owning a document that will allow you to drive legally and return to the U.S. from by land or sea.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 3 2020.