Enhanced License vs. REAL ID—Which is right for you? - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Feb 8, 2019

Enhanced License vs. REAL ID—Which is right for you?

Whether you’re planning an exotic retreat to a faraway island or just visiting some relatives, you may need to reconsider the way you travel. After May 7, 2025, only the Enhanced or REAL ID will be accepted to get on a domestic flight in New York State, meaning all residents will need to obtain either an Enhanced license or a REAL ID for air travel. What does this mean? Read on to learn more. 

What’s the difference? 

Your existing license will always be used as your main form of identification; however, it can no longer be used for domestic air travel. Enhanced and REAL ID’s can be used for domestic flights, entering federal buildings and getting into a military base. The main difference applies when re-entering the U.S. by land or sea. Only an Enhanced license (or passport) can be used to cross the U.S. border from Canada, Mexico and some countries in the Caribbean.

Will you need it?  

As of May 2025, New York residents must possess either the Enhanced or REAL ID to fly (unless they already have a passport). There is no need to update your license or obtain a REAL ID for flying purposes if you already have a passport. Passports can be used for entering most countries but it does not license you to operate a vehicle.

How to prepare:

  1. Do your research—know which form of identification is right for you.
  2. Learn the costs associated—REAL IDs are the same amount as a standard driver’s license renewal fee. The Enhanced license is $30 more than the price of getting a new standard license.
  3. Bring original copies of important documents to the DMV—this includes: a birth certificate, social security card and a US passport.
  4. Bring any newly updated and current documents—be sure to verify your full, legal name. If you have a legal name change, you must bring proof of that with the original documents.
  5. Bring two forms of proof of NYS Residency—information with a P.O. Box doesn’t count. Some examples of valid proof include: credit card bill, paystub or a utility bill.

Why you should consider making the change:

When deciding which ID to pursue, take a moment to examine your lifestyle. Do you travel a lot for work or leisure? A REAL ID may be sufficient for someone who flies within the U.S. borders. However, for an international traveler, an Enhanced license may be required.

If you are considering making the change, it’s best to do it sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more flooded the DMV gets and it’s a relief to have these documents taken care of well before you need them. For more information on which ID is right for you, visit your local DMV.

Are you planning on traveling anytime soon? Make sure you consider these 11 important agenda items before taking off.