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NYC Municipal IDs will have perks program

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark--Viverito announce the NYC Municipal ID Card will come with 1-year free membership to 33 NYC Cultural Institutions, including the Bronx Zoo. Credit: Bryan Smith

The municipal ID card set to debut on Jan. 1 will come with cultural perks such as free membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and also fraud protections such as a bar code and hologram, officials said Thursday in filling in more of the program's details.

The city-issued ID is meant to provide official documentation for residents who entered the country illegally, and advocates have sought incentives to encourage legal residents to also sign up.

The card can be used toward free yearlong memberships to 33 cultural institutions, including Lincoln Center, Queens Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Bronx Zoo, officials announced Thursday at the zoo.

"The mission is to expose this entire city to our extraordinary cultural assets, to break down barriers, to make it more inclusive," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "That's good for everyone. That's in the public interest."

Draft rules for the program state that the card will be provided free, will expire after five years and will have a minimum application age of 14.

Proof of identity and residency is necessary for approval. State driver's licenses, U.S. passports and foreign passports are among the acceptable documents that would count the most toward meeting the point value necessary to obtain the municipal ID card. Those with a lower point values include school ID cards, state benefits cards and foreign birth certificates, according to the draft rules.

Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal said Thursday the city is still in talks with financial institutions about accepting the municipal ID. She said the card's look has been designed, though it is not yet ready for a public unveiling, and will have security features similar to those on state-issued IDs.

The ID will feature the cardholder's photograph, name, date of birth, signature, eye color, height and in most instances, city street address. It will also include an expiration date, ID number and an optional self-designated gender.

In other cities with municipal ID programs, including San Francisco and New Haven, Connecticut, about 1 percent of the population is enrolled, but New York City officials hope participation is higher here with the cultural benefits, Agarwal said.

There are about 500,000 city residents who entered the country illegally, officials said.

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