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I am a U.S. citizen living in New York state and I have heard that I will need to purchase an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) to fly domestically in the U.S. starting in 2016. Is this true?

According to the NYS DMV EDL/ENDID Early Renewal Fee Calculator it would cost me $49 to upgrade my current license. A regular class D license renewal plus EDL would cost $94.50.

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    Just as a note, if you have a passport, that works fine for traveling domestically, too, so there's no need to buy a new driver's license if you already have a passport. Personally, I prefer to use my passport when flying domestically, as my driver's license fits tightly in my wallet and it's a pain to get it in and out while standing in line holding luggage. – reirab Sep 2 '15 at 16:54
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    A related point: in WA getting an EDL cost an extra 35 $ but you get to make an appointment at a special section of the DMV and get in and out really quickly. Not having to experience the regular DMV insanity is totally worth the price. – Brad Sep 2 '15 at 18:56
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    I find it very odd that anyone would consider not having a passport. What is the point of travel if you are unable to even leave your own country? – Ian Ringrose Sep 2 '15 at 20:57
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    @IanRingrose The continental US is roughly the size of Europe including a largish chunk of european Russia. It's a lot easier for an American to find fun stuff to do without crossing a national border. – Dan Neely Sep 2 '15 at 21:07
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    @IanRingrose plus, with an enhanced driver's license or similar document, Americans can travel to Canada and the Caribbean by land or by sea, without needing a passport. – phoog Oct 12 '15 at 18:10
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As of 2015 a regular NY driver's license is not compliant with the REAL ID Act. A NY EDL is compliant.

The NYS DMV page on Federal REAL ID has good information:

Can I board a plane with the driver license I have now?

Yes. DMV expects that all licenses and ID cards issued by New York State will remain acceptable for domestic flights and for access to federal buildings until October 1, 2020.


OLDER INFORMATION

NYS currently has an extension until October 10, 2016 for using regular driver's licenses to board flights.

New York State has been granted an extension to the REAL ID Act through October 10, 2016. What does that mean?

New Yorkers can continue to use their current state-issued driver license or ID card to board a domestic flight until DHS announces otherwise.

The DHS's REAL ID Enforcement in Brief says that the REAL ID Act will be enforced for boarding aircraft "no sooner than 2016", pending a review:

Phase 4: Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft. A driver’s license or identification card from a noncompliant state may only be used in conjunction with an acceptable second form of ID for boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

...

Before a date for Phase 4 is set, DHS will conduct an evaluation to inform a fair and achievable timeline. The date for implementing Phase 4 will be set after the evaluation has been complete; this phase will occur no sooner than 2016.

@phoog's answer is also very thorough.

  • This may be the best available answer to the question, but it doesn't really answer the question, as the question requires a crystal ball. Very few states have regular driver's licenses that comply with REAL ID, and it seems very unlikely that the federal government will actually implement this requirement until at least a majority of the states do. Other considerations include the fact that TSA ID requirements are rather lax; if you've lost your driver's license, for example, they'll usually board you after checking out the other things in your wallet with your name. – phoog Oct 12 '15 at 18:14
  • @phoog I will be sure to update this answer as information becomes available. A list of states whose licenses comply and don't comply is at the link in the current answer. – M. Dudley Oct 12 '15 at 19:29
  • Hmm, the list is a lot bigger than it was the last time I looked. But still, I really doubt that the TSA and NYS DMV will tolerate for very long a situation where the majority of New Yorkers can't fly with just their DL. I've discussed that a bit in my answer. – phoog Oct 12 '15 at 22:24
  • I didn't realize how topical this is. I just found that the extension is supposed to be granted tomorrow. – phoog Oct 13 '15 at 0:25
  • Apparently the DMV will start issuing Real ID licenses this year, but unlike some states will continue to offer a standard license for those who don't care to meet the more stringent Real ID requirements. The two types of license will have the same cost. – phoog Oct 3 '17 at 4:37
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In short, no, you will not need an EDL after the TSA begins enforcing the REAL ID act.

  1. You will be able to travel with your non-compliant license plus additional identification (see http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs: "A driver’s license or identification card from a noncompliant state may only be used in conjunction with a second form of ID for boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft").

  2. You may already have another acceptable identification document (from https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification):

    • U.S. passport
    • U.S. passport card
    • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
    • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
    • Permanent resident card
    • Border crossing card
    • DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
    • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
    • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
    • HSPD-12 PIV card
    • Foreign government-issued passport
    • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
    • Transportation worker identification credential
  3. The TSA identification requirement is not absolutely strict. See the above-linked page under "Forgot Your ID?" which states, in part, "... you may still be allowed to fly ... there is no standard list of what alternate forms of ID are acceptable."

  4. The requirement seems very likely to be implemented well after 2016. The actual date has not been announced; it has been postponed repeatedly over the course of several years; and, obviously, the prospect of a large majority of travelers from New York (and New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Minnesota) having to show additional ID and slowing down the ID check is something that the TSA would like to avoid. It's therefore likely that they will keep pushing the implementation date into the future as long as states are making progress towards implementation.

  5. Most importantly, New York State appears to be taking steps toward REAL ID compliance; at least, they have applied for an extension. Certainly, it appears that the state does not intend to force New Yorkers to have to obtain an EDL in order to fly. The DMV website says, for example, that "DMV has requested an extension from the federal government that would allow any New Yorker to continue to use their current state-issued driver license or ID card to board a domestic flight." Remember that it is also in the TSA's interest to reach an agreement that allows New Yorkers to fly with a driver's license, so they are likely to grant the extension.

See also a piece from syracuse.com that quotes a New York State official:

"We have submitted a request for an extension to the REAL ID Act and our discussions with DHS have been very productive," said DMV spokeswoman Casey McNulty.

"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 2016," McNulty said.

Interestingly, the article goes on to say that it's impossible to learn why exactly New York has been found not to be in compliance.

It also discusses the option of providing a second ID with your non-compliant driver's license, such as "a birth certificate, Social Security card, credit card or marriage license"; however, nobody would confirm whether any particular document would be acceptable.

That's consistent with my experience flying without a listed form of identification. They do admit that it's possible (see above), but they're very vague on the details. I suspect that this is to avoid committing to anything that terrorists could subsequently use to get on board planes for nefarious purposes.

Still, I can confirm that it's possible. My wife, not a US citizen, holds only a foreign driver's license. We flew once from New York to California, and she forgot to bring her passport because, of course, it was a domestic flight. She showed her foreign license, her work ID, and several bank cards. Interestingly, they were rudely dismissive of the foreign license, despite its being by far the most secure of the documents. I don't remember exactly which of the others they accepted, but in any event, they let her fly. (And, despite our worrying about it, she was also allowed to board the flight back home.)

I just found http://www.dhs.gov/secure-drivers-licenses, where DHS says:

DHS has granted an extension to New Hampshire on Friday, October 9 and fully anticipates that it will grant extensions to Louisiana and New York as early as Tuesday, October 13. DHS is working with Federal agencies to incorporate these changes into their REAL ID enforcement procedures as soon as practicable.

Update, October 22, 2015: The DHS page has not yet been modified, but the extension was granted on or before the 14th. At least, NY 1 reported that it was granted early on the morning of the 15th.

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http://dmv.ny.gov/driver-license/about-federal-real-id NY DMV claims extension until October 10,2016

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    Thanks for the update. Could you please elaborate a bit? – JoErNanO Nov 8 '15 at 13:59

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