An example of a REAL ID drivers license.

An example of a REAL ID drivers license. Credit: NYSDMV

ALBANY — The state is providing new online tools and dispatching mobile units throughout Long Island in the next several months to help New Yorkers apply for the more secure driver’s licenses they will need for air travel beginning next year, motor vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said Tuesday.

The federal REAL ID Law will require a deeper level of security for a state driver’s license, learner’s permit or non-driver identification card to board even domestic flights beginning May 7, 2025. A REAL ID license also will be required to enter many federal buildings and facilities such as military bases.

Separate from a REAL ID license is the state's Enhanced Driver License, permit and non-driver ID, which are already held by thousands of New Yorkers. The enhanced license is all a holder needs to board a flight because those documents comply with the federal law passed in 2005.

The federal REAL ID Law is an outgrowth of homeland security measures begun after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The deadline is fast approaching,” Schroeder said Tuesday at media events in Garden City and Queens. “There’s no time to waste.”

Although the approval process takes just minutes, New Yorkers must first pull together several documents including specific records that verify identity, address and citizenship or immigration status. New Yorkers must go to a DMV office for final approval of a REAL ID license or document. No approvals are made online. 

Schroeder advises appointments be made for DMV office visits at dmv.ny.gov/offices.

New online tools

To speed the process, Schroeder said the department has developed online tools to help New Yorkers compile the proper records before going to a DMV office.

The information is available at the DMV website at dmv.ny.gov/REALID and dmv.ny.gov/driver-license/get-your-real-id-enhanced-document-application-pre-screened.

A YouTube video has also been provided at youtube.com/watch?v=LZRd5MYrVJ4.

Additional online tools include the “top five most common mistakes” in seeking a REAL ID license, permit or identification card at: dmv.ny.gov/press-release/press-release-07-26-2018.

Mobile units

Two mobile units will operate at state parks, fairs andlibraries from spring into fall on Long Island and the boroughs of New York City. Anyone who has a valid, unexpired driver's license, permit or non-driver ID can visit the units, which will be able to process the REAL ID application and take the required photo. No appointment will be needed.

A document guide that will help prepare for the visit to the mobile unit is at process.dmv.ny.gov/documentguide/dmv_license/DisplayPages/pwizlicensePermitNDID.cfm.

The schedule so far includes:

  • Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, May 25 and May 26
  • Hempstead Lake State Park, June 8
  • Sunken Meadow State Park, July 6 and July 20
  • Jones Beach State Park, July 13 and July 14
  • Robert Moses State Park, July 27 and Aug. 3

More dates and locations will be added.

DMV workers also will spend three days a week at airports during peak travel times to provide information to travelers on how to obtain the REAL ID compliant records through a DMV office. The airports include LaGuardia and Long Island MacArthur airports. The airport workers, however, can't provide final approval of applications.

Here are some REAL ID basics:

What do you need to qualify for a REAL ID-compliant license?

New Yorkers must:

  • Provide proof of identity such as a valid driver’s license, birth certificate or passport that includes the user’s full first name, middle name if applicable, and last name.
  • Proof of a Social Security number or a statement that shows the applicant isn’t eligible for Social Security. For applicants with a valid license, permit or identification card, an original Social Security card or W-2 employee tax record with full Social Security number is required. For applicants without a valid license, permit or identification card, a Social Security card or letter from the Social Security Administration proving the applicant’s eligibility to have a Social Security number is needed.
  • Additional requirements are proof of date of birth, proof of U.S. citizenship or proof of legal permanent or temporary residency. This requirement can be proven through government documents, including birth certificates and immigration records.
  • Two proofs of living in New York State, such as utility bills, bank statements and mortgage statements where the applicant’s address is shown.

What if the name on these records doesn't match the applicant’s full name, citizenship, etc.?

The applicant must provide a court record or government proof that created the name change, such as a marriage license, divorce decree, adoption record or court order.

What is the cost?

There is no additional cost.

Does everyone need to get a license that complies with REAL ID requirements?

No. A New Yorker may have a license or identification card not compliant with REAL ID and still board flights and enter federal buildings and bases if the user shows a U.S. passport.

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