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  • Writer's pictureAmy Leggett

Are You REAL ID Ready?


On May 3, 2023, US travelers must be REAL ID compliant in order to board domestic flights and to access certain federal facilities. If you haven't already secured your REAL ID compliant identification, you better start planning to avoid the deadline rush as May 3rd approaches.


What does it mean to be REAL ID compliant?


The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 pursuant to recommendations by the 9/11 Commission that the Federal Government set minimum standards for issuance of sources of identification (such as driver's licenses). The Act establishes minimum security standards to be met by states for the issuance and production of licenses and identification cards. The Act also prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting driver's licenses or identification issued by those states that don't meet the Act's standards. The deadline for states to meet these standards is May 3, 2023.


A compliant REAL ID license or identification card will have a star marking in the upper right hand corner. A few states, including New York, have an option for an Enhanced Driver's License or Identification Card which will meet the REAL ID requirement. The Enhanced ID will have an American Flag in the upper right hand corner instead of the star marking. The difference between REAL ID and an Enhanced ID is that an Enhanced ID can be used to travel to Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean countries without a passport BUT ONLY if traveling by land or sea. Traveling by air to these locations will still require a passport.



Of course, if you have a valid Passport that will suffice as a REAL ID compliant document for purposes of domestic travel and you will not need to obtain a REAL ID driver's license. However, if you want to use your driver's license for your domestic travel you will need to obtain the REAL or Enhanced ID before May 3, 2023.


How do you get a REAL ID?


You can get a REAL ID by visiting your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Before you go, you should visit your state''s DMV website to determine what documentation is required by your state to receive a compliant REAL ID. At a minimum, you will be required to provide documentation that shows the following: 1) Full Legal Name; 2) Date of Birth; 3) Social Security Number; 4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence; and 5) Legal Status. Again, your state may impose additional requirements so check the DMV website so you can gather all of the documents you will need.


The DMV website will also indicate the cost for obtaining a REAL ID. In New York, the cost for a REAL ID is the same as the cost for a standard driver's license or identification card. New York is one of the states that offers the Enhanced ID and there is an additional $30 charge for that.


It generally takes about two weeks to receive your REAL ID, so plan accordingly in order to ensure you receive it before the deadline if you have domestic travel planned. Also consider that the closer it gets to the deadline, the longer it may take to receive your REAL ID due to an increase in requests.


Do you still need your Passport?


Yes! The REAL ID only applies to domestic travel within the US. As noted above, an Enhanced ID can be used to travel to Mexico, Canada and some Caribbean countries if you are arriving by land or sea. International travel and air travel to Mexico, Canada and those Caribbean countries will still require a Passport.




Any other questions?


If you still have questions about the REAL ID deadline and the requirements for obtaining a REAL ID, check out the Department of Homeland Security's website here.






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