Can’t get a driver license? Get a REAL ID

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The State Department of Motor Vehicles will start issuing new identification cards on October 30, that meet tough federal security standards. One of those cards is called a REAL ID, because it was created by Congress under the REAL ID Act of 2005.

A REAL ID is mainly for non-U.S. citizens, who because of their legal status, are unable to obtain a driver license, but they can also be issued to non-drivers looking for a government approved picture identification card.

As New Yorkers’ driver licenses come up for renewal they will receive notices offering three options for renewal, each with a different security status stamped on the card.

The REAL ID is marked with a star, allowing that person to board domestic flights, and be admitted on to federal property, such as a U.S. courthouse.

An Enhanced Driver License is accepted on domestic flights, at federal buildings, and at U.S. border crossings, and is marked with a U.S. flag in the lower right hand corner.

The Standard Driver License cannot be used for federal purposes, meaning TSA agents will not accept the license as ID on any flight, domestic or foreign, nor can it be used to enter a federal facility.

Acting Erie County Clerk Peggy LaGree said the changes do not go into effect until October 1, 2020, but the REAL ID does become available as of October 30 this year.

“It is a stand alone REAL ID, which is also accepted for boarding a domestic flight, or entering a federal building. The difference being, that that document would also be available to someone who has a foreign passport, and verification of lawful status in the United States.”

LaGree added, to upgrade to an Enhanced Driver License, or get a REAL ID, you have to go to a county Auto Bureau and do it in person.

Boarding flights to other countries will still require a passport, with any of these forms of identification. There is no extra charge for simply renewing your license. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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