I understand that a US-issued enhanced driver license (or ID card) is a special form of REAL ID. The difference from regular REAL ID is the holder not only had to prove legal presence in the US, but that the holder is a US citizen or national.

I read the final rules about REAL ID and they seem to say that the face of the license or ID card must have the person's full middle name(s), not initials, unless the name is so long that the middle name has to be reduced to an initial in order to fit. But I'm a notary and see many enhanced driver licenses; they often have a middle initial instead of a middle name.

Are people with just a middle initial instead of a full middle name at risk of extra delay when returning to the US by land or water from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean?

  • Where exactly did you see that in the regulations? Jan 23, 2019 at 22:55
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    The regulations concerning Real ID licenses do not mention enhanced licenses anywhere, so it's not clear to me that they apply. But I can't find other regulations that do concern enhanced licenses. Have I overlooked something in the Real ID regulations?
    – phoog
    Jan 23, 2019 at 22:56
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    @phoog, I can't find official regulations on how states qualify to issue enhanced driver licenses. This TSA page essential says regular driver license is OK for now for domestic air travel, but "beginning Oct. 1, 2020, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S., make sure it is REAL ID compliant. But "DHS-designated enhanced driver's license" is listed as a separate bullet point. Seems ambiguous to me whether REALID rules are separate from enhanced driver license rules. Jan 23, 2019 at 23:15
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    It looks like EDL programs are defined on a case-by-case basis without specific regulations governing the documents. As an example, have a look at the announcement of the acceptance of Minnesota's EDL. It seems likely that DHS applies the same requirements to EDLs as it does to Real ID licenses, but since EDLs have (if I recall correctly) an ICAO-style MRZ, there might be some differences.
    – phoog
    Jan 23, 2019 at 23:15
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    Some of the background in that announcement may be of interest. It should at least point to the slightly different statutory and regulatory basis of EDLs compared to Real ID licenses. (Also, if I recall correctly ICAO 9303 truncation rules don't allow for middle initials, either, but instead require truncation. If the first and last names together are 37 characters, then I guess it would be the same as a middle initial.)
    – phoog
    Jan 23, 2019 at 23:28


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