You probably keep hearing about REAL ID and how you need to get one or you won't be able to use that ID to fly next year, but what is the difference between a REAL ID and an Enhanced ID (or driver's license)?

There is an easy way to tell which ID you have, and I will share that with you in a moment. The only reason I even realized that this was a 'big deal' until I went to the pharmacy counter to get my allergy medicine. I found myself explaining the differences to the pharmacist and the clerk, because they were confused. I only know this info, because I was one of the first to get the Enhanced ID in NYS, and I am fortunate to fly pretty often.

What is an Enhanced ID or Driver's License in New York State?


An Enhanced ID is one of the ones that you can use to go into Canada when you are driving, yes you can also get into a federal building and use it to get on an airplane as long as it is for domestic travel only.

Enhanced ID's have been around for more than 15 years in New York State. This is the license that will also allow you to enter (and leave the United States) by land or sea, and not need a passport. In order to get an Enhanced ID you have to show a great deal of info. Believe it or not, an Enhanced ID is more secure than a REAL ID. It (believe it or not) shows proof of citizenship, not just of who you are.

What is a REAL ID?

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A Real ID shows a higher level of security and proof of identity than a regular driver's license does. You can use it to get on a plane (domestic flights) and you can also use it to get into federal buildings and on military installations. You can get this when you go to renew your drivers' license.

What's the easiest way to tell the difference between the licenses?

A few other differences and the 'easy way' to tell which ID you have? Look the upper right-hand corner of your license. If you see a star, it's a Real ID, if you see a US Flag, it's an Enhanced ID. The other differences? How much documentation you will need to bring with you when you apply for either version, and how much money you will need to bring too. The Real ID is less expensive than the Enhanced version.

Do you need to get a Real ID version of a driver's license? No, you don't. Do you want to fly any time after the Spring of 2023? If you don't have a Real ID driver's license you will need a Passport to get on a plane, or just don't fly.

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