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Answering your questions about Real IDs

The US Department of Homeland Security extended the deadline to get a Real ID until October 2021.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — We're one year out from TSA requiring, at minimum, Real IDs and many viewers still have a lot of questions about them, leading up to the 2021 deadline.

What is it? Do you need one? How much will it cost?

"Having the proper documentation is paramount," Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns said.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the US Department of Homeland Security pushed back the deadline to get a Real ID until October 2021. One year sounds like a long time to get a new driver's license, but Kearns doesn't think so.

Kearns said that people shouldn't procrastinate going through the process of getting their Real ID. 

As of October 1, 2021, federal agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration will only be able to accept Real IDs, military IDs, passports, and enhanced driver's licenses as forms of identification, even if you're flying within the United States.

It doesn't matter when your license expires. By October 2021, it has to be Real ID-compliant, or you will not be permitted to fly.

Here's the difference for each ID:

Standard ID

  • Can be used to board a domestic flight (within the U.S.) only until October 1, 2021, following this date a passport will be required
  • Can be used for photo identification purposes 

Real ID

  • Can be used to board a domestic flight (within the U.S.)
  • Can be used to enter a federal building or military base
  • Can be used for photo identification purposes 

To get a Real ID you will need the following:

  • Proof of identity - *if your name has changed bring in marriage certificate(s), divorce decree(s) or court order document(s)
  • Proof of NY State residency
  • Proof of lawful presence in the U.S.
  • Proof of Social Security status

Enhanced ID

  • Can be used to board a domestic flight (within the U.S.)
  • Can be used to enter a federal building or military base
  • Can be used to cross a U.S. border coming from Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean countries (it is not acceptable for air travel between these countries)
  • Can be used for photo identification purposes

To get an Enhanced ID you will need the following:

  • Proof of identity - *if your name has changed bring in marriage certificate(s), divorce decree(s) or court order document(s)
  • Proof of NY State residency
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Documentation showing your date of birth
  • Proof of Social Security status

The standard New York driver's license now says "not for federal purposes." The Real ID has a star symbol in the upper right corner, and if you have an enhanced license, it's marked as such and has a U.S. flag in the lower right corner.

It's important to know it's not mandatory to get a Real ID by the 2021 deadline.

If it's still some time before you're up for renewal, you can keep using your standard driver's license. It will still be accepted as identification for most things like driving and voting. 

"You could have a standard driver's license and a passport, but if your passport expires, you're not getting on a plane, you're not getting into Canada, and you're not getting into a federal building," Kearns said.

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