Good Question: Passports vs. Real ID

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Here’s a question about IDs and travel. We’ve talked a lot about the push to get people to go to the DMV now and get their real IDs.

Starting next year, your standard license won’t get you through security to fly anywhere in the U.S but some of you might not need to do anything yet.

Let me explain.

Starting May 3, 2023, if you want to fly somewhere in the country your identification has to meet new federal standards.

Real IDs came about after 9/11. They’re issued after a more thorough check of your identification and have new security features making them harder to fake.

You have to take care of this in person with an appointment at the DMV. Real IDs will take about two weeks to arrive.

One viewer followed up, saying “can you cross the border into Canada with a NY State real ID?”

That answer is no. For that, New Yorkers can get an enhanced license. That will get you to Canada, Mexico, and some countries in the Caribbean. It costs $30 more.

Or you can go the passport or passport card route.

A local deputy clerk reached out and told us “as a passport acceptance agent, I would like to stress that a passport book covers all requirements for domestic and international travel. Please make sure your listeners / readers are aware of their options before they all rush to the DMV to get a Real ID or an enhanced license.”

Passports cost $165 the first time for everyone 16 and up. it’s $130 on the fee for renewals. They take 2-3 months to process.

But of course, you still have to have a license to drive.  So what should you do?

If you don’t have plans to travel outside the U.S., just go ahead and get your Real ID.

If you’ve got a standard license with a few years left and you have a passport that isn’t expiring soon, there’s no rush to do anything. You can just use the passport to get through TSA.