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New Yorkers May Need New IDs For Air Travel In 2016

Beginning in 2016, New Yorkers may need to apply for an enhanced driver's license if they hope to fly, even domestically.
Beginning in 2016, New Yorkers may need to apply for an enhanced driver's license if they hope to fly, even domestically. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Flying out of New York may become more of a hassle in the coming year, when new provisions of the Real ID Act go into effect, forcing travelers in certain states to carry passports or second IDs, even when flying domestically.

Beginning at an unknown date in 2016, travelers from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota and New Hampshire will no longer be able to use their state driver’s license as their ID to board a plane, because they are considered “noncompliant” under federal laws.

The change comes as security standards are being upgraded under the Real ID Act, which was introduced a decade ago, but is being implemented slowly and in stages. Under the act, licenses are required to contain “machine-readable technology” in the form of a chip, which New York lacks.

According to multiple reports, the states resisting the regulation of licenses are concerned with high administrative costs and increased costs to process licenses for drivers. “Compliant” IDs that will be accepted by authorities in those four states include passports, passport cards, U.S. military identification or permanent resident cards.

Children from the four restricted states that are under 18-years-old still do not need identification if traveling with a companion.

The Department of Homeland Security has assuaged the concerns of many, warning that the new regulations will be slowly rolled out, with travelers allowed a three-month grace period once its enacted to adjust to the new rules.

“The Department of Homeland Security will ensure the public has ample advance notice before identification requirements for boarding aircraft change,” officials stated. “That notice will include information on the process for individuals with a non-compliant driver’s license or identification card to be able to travel by aircraft.”

In New York and Minnesota, the Transportation Security Administration will also accept Enhanced Driver’s Licenses , which can be applied for at any DMV office if the applicant supplies proof of identity, American citizenship and New York state residency and age. It typically takes approximately six weeks and costs $110 to process a passport. For those interested in applying for an enhanced license, there is an additional $30 fee.

With just three months until the calendars turn to 2016, there remains no official date when the new regulations will go into effect, though officials with the state Department of Motor Vehicles noted that come Jan. 1, the old rules will still be in place.

“We have submitted a request for an extension to the Real ID Act, and our discussions with the Department of Homeland Security have been very productive,” a spokesman said in a statement. “We have no reason to believe that any New Yorker will have a problem using their current state-issued ID card to get on a plane come January.”

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