The New York Skinny on the REAL ID

If you are a New York state resident, hopefully you are aware that beginning October 1, 2020 you will no longer be able to use your regular driver license to board domestic commercial flights. Because of the REAL ID Act, which was actually passed 12 years ago but has been put into action in stages, you will need a different type of driver license in order to fly domestically to ensure that minimum security standards are met.

In order to upgrade your license, you must show proof of social security status, two forms of proof of NY state residency, and proof of name. New York State offers a great document guide tool that can help you plan in advance exactly what you need to bring. These proofs are the same as what would have been required to obtain your standard ID initially. So why is a REAL ID considered “more secure?” Chips! REAL IDs (and Enhanced IDs) are more difficult to duplicate than the current chip-less standard ID. That is why airlines will soon stop accepting them as proper identification for access – because they could be fake!

Now, you don’t NEED to upgrade your license right away if you don’t want to. If you wait until you are due for renewal, you will just need to pay your renewal fee – that you would have had to pay anyway – and there will be no additional fee to change your status to REAL ID. You would just need to bring the proper documentation otherwise your ID would be renewed to a standard automatically. This fee varies by county but in Monroe county it is $64.50. In the meantime, you would use your passport to fly domestically if you have one.

If you are eager to get your upgrade out of the way before you are due for renewal, it only costs $12.50. You can also make other amendments at the same time for no additional fee such as an address change.

Don’t forget about your other option: an Enhanced ID. This will count as your REAL ID since it has a chip in it but will also allow you to re-enter the US from Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean countries. An Enhanced upgrade will cost $30.00 plus whichever fee applies at the time of this change ($12.50 if you are not due for renewal or your renewal fee if you are due for renewal).


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Written by Carol Gabbert, Van Zile Travel

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