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New Yorkers will soon need REAL ID to board domestic flights

After May 3, 2023, travelers flying domestically will not be able to use their standard driver's license at TSA checkpoints to board. Instead, they will have to get a REAL ID, or an enhanced driver’s license, if they don’t have a passport.

New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Shroeder is touring airports throughout the state, to remind residents about the change in advance.

“It's a federally imposed requirement," Schroeder said. "So we want to give people a heads up, and the heads up, right now, is about 190 days.”

Both the REAL ID and the enhanced driver’s licenses allow passengers to board domestic flights without a passport. The enhanced license also lets travelers drive into Canada and Mexico.

New York’s REAL ID driver’s licenses and ID cards have a star inside a black circle on the upper right corner. Enhanced driver's licenses have a flag in the corner.

Both REAL IDs and enhanced driver’s licenses can be obtained in person at a local DMV office, with documents showing citizenship and New York residency.

“If you don't have a passport, and a lot of people don't have a passport, we would encourage you then to come into a DMV office and get a REAL ID, or an enhanced driver's license, which would then give you the extra benefit to go into Canada and Mexico,” Schroeder said.

REAL ID requirements come from the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The federal regulations are an attempt to improve the reliability and accuracy of identification cards used to fly.