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About Ontario's Enhanced Driver's Licence

Archived Backgrounder

About Ontario's Enhanced Driver's Licence

Ministry of Transportation

An Ontario enhanced driver's licence (EDL) contains the same information as a regular Ontario driver's licence but also includes a machine readable Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that denotes Canadian citizenship.

This additional information will allow the driver to use their EDL as a passport alternative when entering the U.S. by land or water.

Why an Enhanced Driver's Licence?

Starting June 1, 2009, the United States government requires all Canadian citizens entering the U.S. by land or water to present a valid passport or other approved secure document that denotes the bearer's identity and citizenship.

The enhanced driver's licence was developed by the Ontario government, in consultation with the Government of Canada and United States Government, as a passport alternative for Ontarians who are Canadian citizens to use when entering the U.S. by land or water.

Changing to an enhanced driver's licence is completely voluntary. It is ideal for a licensed driver who frequently travels to the U.S. by motor vehicle. It's less expensive than a passport and can be conveniently stored inside a wallet just like a regular driver's licence.

Can the EDL be used by Canadian citizens to enter the U.S. by air or when traveling to countries other than the U.S.?

The EDL cannot be used when flying into the U.S. A valid passport or a NEXUS card is required to fly to, through or from the U.S.

Countries have different entry requirements and travelers should check which documents they need before leaving home.

Can anyone get an EDL?

To be eligible for an enhanced driver's licence you must be an Ontario resident, hold a valid Ontario driver's licence (standalone M1 licence holders are not eligible), be a Canadian citizen and not have any travel restrictions.

How does the EDL card work?

The enhanced licence card looks similar to a regular driver's licence except it has the words "enhanced' in the title and CAN in the corner to identify the bearer as a Canadian.

A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip is embedded into the card. The chip contains only a unique identification number - there is no other personal information on this chip. At the U.S. port of entry, an RFID reader retrieves this number and transmits it to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) network. CBP then queries the Canada Border Services Agency database in Canada, and the EDL information is then securely transmitted back to the CBP. 

The enhanced driver's licence contains the same state-of-the art fraud prevention measures already in place on the regular Ontario driver's licence. For added protection the EDL card comes with a security sleeve to prevent the RFID chip from being read by unauthorized sources.

How do people apply for an EDL card?   

Appointments can be booked online at www.ServiceOntario.ca to attend an in-person application at one of the ServiceOntario centres offering EDL services. An Applicant's Guide and application forms can be downloaded from the same site.

The first appointments will begin on May 19, 2009, with the first batch of EDL cards projected for delivery by June 1.

How much does it cost?

The fee for an EDL card is $40.00 in addition to the cost of renewing a driver's licence.

For more information: www.ServiceOntario.ca



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