All I wanted was an enhanced license | Living with Gleigh

I am a fairly organized person. But when I showed up at the DOL to apply for an enhanced driver’s license, I was sent away. An enhanced driver’s license is available for Washington State residents to get into Canada without a passport (or, I imagine any resident who lives in a state that borders Canada; check with your local DOL).  Well, actually I can get into Canada anytime without it; I just couldn’t come back. I guess there is more than one way to recruit citizens.

I read the instructions on the Department of licensing’s website. I needed a birth certificate and proof of residence. Armed with both, I showed up at the office and was told my fancy hospital birth certificate, which is all I had, was not valid. It was valid before 9/11, but now, they wouldn’t accept it as a valid birth certificate.

I had to renew my license anyway, so I went ahead and did that and left wondering why I didn’t have a valid birth certificate. The lady said I could apply for an enhanced license any time and it would still be the same price.

I had both my daughters’ certificates filed away, as well as my husband’s. My husband has a fancy hospital birth certificate as well as a state certified one. My daughters don’t even have fancy birth certificates.  I had to go looking for my birth certificate; it wasn’t filed with the rest of them. I tracked it down easily because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m fairly organized; not that it helped.

When the gal at the licensing place rejected my birth certificate, she suggested I’d have to go to downtown Seattle to order one. Not being happy with that inconvenience, I Googled it. It’s surprisingly easy to order a birth certificate online. Anyone can do it with all the right information. I’m not sure whether to be disturbed by that or happy I didn’t have to go to downtown Seattle.

I got my birth certificate in the mail a couple weeks later, as well as my driver’s license and figured I could go ahead and get myself back to the department of licensing to apply for my enhanced driver’s license. I decided I should pour over the directions one more time to make sure I had all the correct paperwork.

I have my birth certificate, I have proof of residence, but in between birth and proof of residence, I have gotten married. I needed to find my marriage certificate to prove I changed my name. Crud. Truth be told, I couldn’t even tell you what a marriage certificate would look like. I thought about calling the church, but I’m pretty sure a fancy marriage certificate is about as valid as a fancy birth certificate.

So I searched, which took me into the file with our Last Will and Testaments in them, where I found my birth certificate in credit card-form and my husband’s lost social security card (because that makes sense), which did require a trip to the social security administration to replace and is a whole other story I have no room to go into here.

No marriage certificate. Vital Statistics and I are becoming best friends; with all the right information it is surprisingly easy to order a marriage certificate. Now I just have to wait a couple weeks. After I get it, I’ll probably find it filed away somewhere. I am fairly organized, after all. It’s just too bad I can’t remember where I actually file these things. It has been 22 years since I’ve seen it, if I’ve seen it at all.

All I wanted was an enhanced driver’s license.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is now certifiable. You can read her column every week under the Lifestyles section. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her or “like” Living with Gleigh on Facebook.


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