Want the real low-down on REAL ID? It’s here…

This updates an earlier post on the topic….

The most recent update on REAL ID appears here

The bottom line is that all states have a compliant REAL ID plan in place. Travelers have until October 2020 to update their state-issued driver’s licenses and satisfy TSA standards. 

Confused about exactly when  REAL ID kicks in?  Confused about the acceptability of your state’s driver’s license by the TSA for domestic air travel after January 22, 2018?

Don’t panic. 

You won’t be turned away at security with your long-standing license or ID in hand.  If you live in one of the 20-odd states just now issuing REAL ID driver’s licenses (New York is one of them), the Department of Homeland Security has granted extensions until the strict, we-mean-business deadline of October 1, 2020. Therefore you have a bit of time. 

Here is what you need to know about REAL ID…

REAL ID Topline

  • First off, a REAL ID compliant driver’s license is necessary after October 1, 2020,  only if you plan to use it for domestic air travel ID at TSA security. It will also be required when entering federal facilities or military bases. After that date, your standard driver’s license will not be sufficient and you’ll need a second form of ID
  • You do NOT need a REAL ID license to operate a vehicle.
  • You do NOT need a REAL ID license to vote or for most other ID purposes.
  • Across the country, the REAL ID license is designated by a star on the upper right corner. Here is New York’s version, compared to the ‘standard’ license. New York started issuing REAL ID licenses October 30, 2017. 
Note the star on the REAL ID license Photo credit: NYS DMV

Getting a REAL ID

Each state has its own procedure, and clearly, you’ll need to comply with your state’s DMV. However, as REAL lD is a federal mandate there are some constants. Most noteworthy:  plan on doing this in person, at your friendly local DMV office, with your Social Security card, W-2, pay stub, something with your full SSN.

For many of us,  it would take until 2020 just to locate or replace the Social Security card. In that case, the Social Security Administration website offers guidance on the replacement process.

New York State’s REAL ID process

It’s not often one gives the DMV a shout-out but New York does a good job to help you determine if REAL ID is right for you.

If it’s a fit, hit the blue “Get Started” button and you’re on your way.

The site takes you through required documentation, step by step, ending with this handy checklist  based on choices you’ve made on the interactive query.  It is important to read the options carefully as you go through the questionnaire. Finally, at the bottom, is a link to the application itself.

Note that REAL ID will require a new photo.  Lipstick is optional.


Because this application must be done in person and the deadline is such a long way out,  it’s easy to file under  ‘do it later’. 

Tip: Put it on your “to do” list NOW and set a goal of completion by December 31, 2018, long before the deadline. Consider it your first New Year’s resolution. Avoid the rush; 2020 is shaping up to be a very busy year. 



© 3 Score and More 2017


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