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I recall enhanced drivers licenses (EDL) being advertised as a way to travel between north american countries without a passport. It is clear that a US citizen can get back into the US with only an EDL: US CBP - What is an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL)?. However, Canada's entry requirements are less clear. On Travel and identification documents for entering Canada, it says

What [travel documents] you need will depend on where you are from, how you are travelling, and what documents you are travelling with. Consult entry requirements by country.

However, all this says for US citizens is

U.S. citizens must carry proper identification such as a valid U.S. passport.

This links back to the "Travel and identification documents for entering Canada" page. It doesn't clarify what counts as proper identification. Nothing mentions EDLs, and the circular reference doesn't help clear things up. Given all this I'm assuming that an EDL doesn't count, but I'm not confident that's correct.

So, is it possible to enter Canada from the US with an enhanced driver's license, but no passport?


For slightly more context, this is for a friend who wants to travel to Canada in a week or so. They currently have an enhanced non-driver ID, but no passport. However, I am interested in the more general question above that will be more helpful to future readers.

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  • Have you asked Canada Immigration? Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 18:02
  • You could always get a passport card...
    – littleadv
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 18:33
  • @DavidSupportsMonica I have not Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 18:59
  • 2
    @littleadv Passports and passport cards both have a very long processing time. The planned travel is unimportant enough that it is not worth trying to expedite any processes. Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 19:02
  • The WA DoL indicates that it's allowed and anecdotally I've crossed the border via ferry with just an EDL, but hopefully someone can find something from the Canadian government
    – jdouglas
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 19:09

2 Answers 2

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Its kind of buried on the Canadian government website but the official list of acceptable documents is:

U.S. Citizens/Nationals
Although exempt from document entry requirements, U.S. citizens must satisfy a CBSA officer of their status and identity. Documents that can be used for proof of U.S. citizenship are:

  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card (for land and marine travel only)
  • NEXUS card (see Part 6 for more information)
  • Enhanced Driver's License (for land and marine travel only)

And as per Wiki:

EDLs are available to U.S. citizens who reside in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington.

So your friend is good to go.

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  • 4
    Actually Canada still seems to have even less stringent document requirements than that list for Americans entering Canada; a valid photo ID and some proof of citizenship (say, a regular DL and a birth certificate) is sufficient. The advantage of the particular documents in your list is that they should also allow a hassle-free return to the US.
    – user38879
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 19:42
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    But not Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, or Maine? (Or I guess Ohio or Pennsylvania, though they don't share a land border). I wonder why not? Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 17:48
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    @DarrelHoffman Driver licensing is the responsibility of the state (or province in Canada). If the state or province does not see enough benefits of issuing EDLs (which costs money in training, IT updates, etc. auditing/compliance, security features), they do not have to participate in the enhanced licence program.
    – xngtng
    Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 0:11
  • @DarrelHoffman Notably, in Canada, Quebec and Ontario have ended its EDL program a few years ago and B.C. and Manitoba are phasing out EDLs by around 2025 (so no Canadian province will be issuing new EDLs from next year). EDLs were supposed to be a cheap alternative to passport, but NEXUS was created in 2009 and biometric Canadian passport with 10-year validity (instead of five before) became available in 2013. More persons now have a passport and do not see the need to have an EDL.
    – xngtng
    Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 0:15
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An Enhanced Driver's License is the functional equivalent of a Passport Card as far as Canada is concerned.

The EDL is a bit cheaper than a plain driver's license + Federal Passport Card, because much of the identity checking parallels what the state is doing anyway to grant you an ID or driver's license (to comply with the Federal RealID rules). Each state needs to work with DHS to be eligible to issue Enhanced DL/ID, and many states do not bother.

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    An EDL is not currently considered valid travel document to travel into Mexico. Only passport or passport card are officially recognised as acceptable.
    – Midavalo
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 5:51
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    Re: "much of the identity checking parallels what the state is doing anyway to grant you an ID or driver's license (to comply with the Federal RealID rules)": That depends on the state. In Washington state, ordinary driver's licenses and ID cards do not comply with REAL ID; only enhanced ones do.
    – ruakh
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 6:21
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    @midalvo ok, thanks. That explains why Cali, NM etc. don't offer it. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 6:37
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    @ruakh that is crazy, that means most of their citizens will have trouble flying in October 30 2296 when Starfleet finally puts their foot down and says "no more darn RealID extensions". Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 6:40
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    I’d be extremely surprised if RealID actually starts being enforced in this decade…
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 6:41

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