Who Needs A ‘REAL-ID’ Compliant Driver’s License?

To The Editor:
Last month I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan. To say that visit was emotional does not do it justice.

The Oculus, the Museum, the Freedom Tower and the Memorial are somber reminders of that fateful September morning.

Back home, I am reminded of that visit as County Clerk given that I administer the three Department of Motor Vehicle locations in Oswego County.

Fulton, Oswego, and Pulaski are all locally managed branches of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and recently we have seen a significant uptick in customers requesting a “REAL-ID” compliant driver’s license.

These are licenses that we are happy and able to provide customers, but they require added documentation because of the way these
licenses came about.

In 2005 Congress passed the REAL ID Act as part of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”

The goal was to create minimum security standards for issuing a license that would protect sensitive facilities such as nuclear power plants, military bases, and federally regulated commercial airports.

This triggered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to begin working with states to reform how licenses were created and issued.

In December of 2013, DHS announced its plan to enforce the REAL ID Act and began working with states to implement enhanced security
features on driver’s licenses and non-driver’s IDs.

Finally, in October of 2017, New York State authorized DMVs to begin issuing three forms of licenses: (1) a Standard license that upon renewal will be marked “not for federal purposes,” (2) a new REAL ID license, and (3) an Enhanced license that has been offered for several years.

The Enhanced license, which comes with an additional $30 fee, is considered the gold standard in NYS as it is REAL-ID compliant.

New York State waiting to comply until October of 2017 has created quite the backlog of New Yorkers wishing to update their license and the lines in all three Oswego County DMVs are largely a result.

Here’s the deal.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, on October 1, 2020
the federal government will require REAL-ID compliant photographic identification before you can board a domestic flight or enter a federal facility such as a nuclear power plant or military base.

So, unless you currently have and always travel with a Passport, you will need a REAL-ID compliant document to board an airplane as of October 1, 2020.

The Standard license that most New Yorkers have is not REAL-ID compliant.

If the license you currently have says, “Enhanced” across the top, then you have a REAL-ID compliant license – you don’t need to do anything except renew as normal.

If you do not currently have an Enhanced license, you will need to visit one of our DMVs and ask for a REAL-ID compliant license.

Here’s the trick: you will need to bring with you some additional information.

If you have a standard NYS Driver’s License (or non-Driver’s ID) and you want the REAL-ID license you will need to produce proof of date of birth and proof of Social Security status.

What this means is you will need to produce a document, ideally your Social Security card, that has your full Social Security number on it.

You will also need to provide two (2) documents proving your NYS residency.

If your current license has your physical NYS address, not PO BOX, on it that will count as one form of proof. You can also use a bank statement, a utility bill, or a computer printed pay stub.

If you are younger than 21 you can have a parent or guardian also accompany you and fill out form MV-45, along with your birth certificate to prove residency.

A high school ID and report card will also be accepted if it shows your full name and current NYS address – the ID must be issued within one year of your DMV visit. If you are using a high school ID, you must also produce your birth certificate.

If you have a standard NYS Driver’s License (or non-Driver’s ID) and you want an Enhanced license, which cost an additional $30, you will also need to produce proof of your Social Security number, along with two documents proving residency like above.

Additionally, you will need to a valid Passport or Passport Card, US Birth Certificate, Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, Permanent Resident Card, valid US Employment Authorization Card with valid foreign Passport with US Visa, or a valid US Employment Authorization Card with I-797 Notice of Action.

And, if your name has changed since your birth you need to provide evidence linking said changes.

As per NYSDMV, “if your name has changed due to marriage, divorce, or legal name change, you must bring original or certified copies documenting the change (marriage certificate, divorce degree, or court issued documents.) If your name has changed multiple times, you must bring multiple documents that link all names.”

Got all that…?

I know it’s confusing and October 1, 2020, will be here before we know it.

If you have questions about REAL-ID, the best thing to do is visit https://dmv.ny.gov/which-id-right-me and go through the check list.

Once you figure out what license is right for you, you can print off a checklist to help you gather the documents you need for your DMV visit.

Michael C. Backus
Clerk of Oswego County and County Commissioner of Motor Vehicles

1 Comment

  1. “The hijackers in the September 11 attacks were 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda.” They would not have been able to board the planes with regular NY licenses.

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