Originally announced in 2005, the REAL ID has had an extremely rough launch in the US. After states dragged their feet for more than a decade to set compliance deadlines, April 27, 2020 became the official deadline. Then COVID hit and it became May 3, 2023 because of office closings.

Now New Yorkers and the rest of the nation have a new deadline and its quite a way off. The biggest challenge to the REAL ID upgrade is that if a person has an old ID or license, they can’t board domestic flights and enter some federal buildings.

What Is REAL ID?

NY Department of Transportation
NY Department of Transportation
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Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver licenses, permits and ID cards. The Act also prohibits federal agencies, like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), from accepting cards for official purposes from states that do not meet these standards. - NYSDOT

REAL ID is an upgraded, more secure identification card recommended by the 9/11 Commission. Instead of leaving identification specifications up to individual states, this is one uniform country-wide card that is more difficult to impersonate or forge.

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Getting a REAL ID won’t cost you any more here in New York than your old license, but there is an Enhanced ID available for $30 extra. The Enhanced ID is a REAL ID with the added bonus of allowing holders to cross land and sea borders to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. New York is one of four states to offer this (Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington).

How Do I Know If I Have A REAL ID Already?

An example of a REAL ID in New York.
US Department of Homeland Security
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You can see if your New York license is a REAL ID by looking for a star in a circle in the top right-hand corner.

 

An example of an Enhanced ID in New York.
US Department of Homeland Security
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Enhanced IDs will have an American flag there instead of a star.

When Is The New Real ID Deadline?

The new deadline to get a REAL ID is May 7, 2025. To see what you need to get a REAL ID upgrade, check here. To find your local DMV, check here. Granted, you don't have to be in nearly as much of a hurry as before.

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