December 2, 2021

Line forms here

Multiple visits common for enhanced license seekers

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Amanda Knout, right, of Marathon stands in line Wednesday with her daughter Jenna at the Cortland County Department of Motor Vehicles while Jenna gets her driver’s permit. The DMV office is getting more busy as new regulations for enhanced drivers licenses will begin in October 2020.

Sarah Chilson of Freetown sat Wednesday afternoon and started filling out a few forms at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Cortland.

Unlike many visitors coming to the DMV for their enhanced drivers license lately, Chilson had come prepared with everything she needed.

She had her birth certificate, marriage certificate to show her name change, proof of address and a W-2 form instead of the Social Security card.

Christine McNeil of Cortland was not quite so prepared.

After a brief visit at the window, she turned around and headed home, planning to return with proof of her Social Security number and her birth certificate showing her middle name.

Visitors like McNeil are more common than visitors like Chilson, said County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin, who said multiple visits to the DMV are becoming common now that people need to come in to get their enhanced driver’s licenses ahead of the October 2020 deadline.

Bring paperwork for new license

Come prepared when you apply for your enhanced drivers license. What to bring?
• Proof of Social Security number
• Proof of address
• A passport or a birth certificate
• All documents must show the same name or else you will need to provide documents that show the name change (marriage certificate, divorce decree or court document).

January wasn’t too busy but February has been picking up, Larkin said, and any day now she expects to hire an additional clerk to help handle the load.

In 2017 the DMV issued 1,473 enhanced drivers licenses and in 2018 it issued 2,945 enhanced drivers licenses, said Larkin, and she expects that number to go even higher in 2019 and 2020.

“Usually it’s two trips to the DMV, sometimes three, because of the paperwork,” Larkin said. “And a lot of what people have trouble with are the names, all the names on their documents they present to us have to match.”

The document with proof of address must show the actual address, not a post office box, she said.

Women who have been married and changed their names must present a marriage license, or if divorced, the divorce decree, she said, to show the succession of name changes.

“People are irate and I really sympathize with them,” Larkin said.

The enhanced driver’s license can be used instead of a passport for return to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico and some countries in the Caribbean, the state DMV reports. It is also accepted to board a domestic flight within the United States, enter military bases and certain federal facilities.

After October 2020, people won’t be able to do much besides drive with a regular driver’s license, Larkin said.

McNeil wants the enhanced driver’s license because she doesn’t usually carry her passport with her, while Chilson wants it because it will make it easier to drive through Canada to visit her sister in Michigan.

After October 2020, McNeil wouldn’t be able to board a domestic flight without an enhanced driver’s license, and Chilson wouldn’t be able to get to her sister in Michigan from Canada.

“So people think, well, I’m going to go and then something happens and they need to fly, and they need it in a hurry, then they’re in trouble,” Larkin said.