About Federal REAL ID

What is REAL ID?

The REAL ID Act is a federal law passed by Congress after 9/11 that establishes specific federal requirements for state-issued driver licenses and ID cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes, like entering a federal building or boarding a domestic flight. 


Can I board a plane with the driver license I have now?

Yes. DMV expects that all licenses and ID cards issued by New York State will remain acceptable for domestic flights and for access to federal buildings until October 1, 2020.


What happens after 2020?

Starting in October 2020,New Yorkers will need a REAL ID compliant license to board a domestic flight or enter a federal building without secondary forms of identification, as per the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


New York State has been granted an extension to the REAL ID Act only through October 10, 2017. What does that mean?

The extension’s 2017 expiration is no cause for concern, as DHS grants extensions only on an annual basis and New York State anticipates having a REAL ID extension until becoming fully compliant with the Act.  That means New Yorkers can continue to use their current state-issued driver license or ID card to enter federal buildings or board a domestic flight until October 1, 2020.


Doesn’t DMV already produce an acceptable REAL ID document?

Yes.  Since 2008, DMV has offered an enhanced driver license and ID card, commonly called an “EDL,” that is acceptable for access to federal buildings and to board domestic flights. New Yorkers can obtain an EDL at DMV offices. See details on our enhanced license or ID.  The EDL was designed to demonstrate U.S. citizenship for re-entry to the U.S. at land and sea borders, but it is also accepted for all REAL ID purposes. 


Will I be able to use the new REAL ID to get back from Canada? 

No. REAL ID licenses and IDs are not accepted for re-entering the U.S. at land and sea borders.  The EDL is the only document produced by New York State that serves such a purpose, as provided in federal law.  However, EDLs serve all REAL ID purposes and also as a border crossing document.


What is DMV’s plan to ensure that New York State is compliant with REAL ID regulations?

DMV has submitted a proposal to DHS that calls for producing REAL ID licenses and ID cards, the continuation of the EDL that allows U.S. citizens to re-enter the nation at land or sea borders, and non-federal licenses and ID cards for customers who opt not to renew in a DMV office or who choose not to obtain a REAL ID-compliant document.


Will New York’s non-federal document be less secure?

No.  It will be issued using the same secure, time-tested requirements in place today. 


What are DMV’s next steps with DHS?

DMV has submitted a compliance plan to DHS outlining its approach as well as addressing several technical aspects of the REAL ID Act and regulations.  DMV has every confidence that its plan will be acceptable to DHS.


When can I get the REAL ID license or ID card?

The REAL ID license and ID card will be offered no later than January 1, 2019.  


How do I obtain a REAL ID license or ID card?

New Yorkers will be able to come to a DMV office with proof of identity, state residency, U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S. and obtain a REAL ID license or ID card when DMV begins producing the new REAL ID documents no later than January 1, 2019.


Do I need to worry about this now?

No.  All New York licenses and ID cards are currently acceptable for REAL ID purposes and DMV expects them to be until October 1, 2020. 


What should I do if I want a REAL ID document now, or if my DMV document expires after 2020?

You can come into an office now and obtain an EDL, which is acceptable for all REAL ID purposes. Once DMV offers a separate REAL ID document no later than January 1, 2019, New Yorkers will have the option of getting the EDL, a REAL ID document, or a non-federal document.