BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – If you don’t have an Enhanced Driver’s License or passport, and plan to travel by air next year later, you will have to get one of those documents before you can take off.
It’s all about Homeland Security, and New York’s standard driver’s license might not cut it, when those new regulations take effect.
The law known as the REAL ID Act is designed to protect federal facilities from terrorist attacks, and it narrows acceptable forms of identification down to those with security features like the safeguards in your passport.
REAL ID became law in 2005, but its provisions have been phased in over a 10-year period.
For the rest of 2015, you can still use your driver’s license as identification on flights within the United States, but sometime next year, Homeland Security is set to change that, and will require enhanced ID on all commercial flights–foreign and domestic.
Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs points out, the state spent an additional $38 million, two years ago, to upgrade driver’s license security features, which seem to be coming up short.
“Their rationale for it,” said Jacobs, “was because they needed to be compliant with the REAL ID Act, the federal act that is coming in to force. Now we are finding that the new driver’s license is not compliant, so you can’t use it, and you will still have to pay for an Enhanced Driver’s License.”
Jacobs said county clerks across the state are sounding the alarm, advising New Yorkers to upgrade their driver’s licenses, when they renew them, to Enhanced Driver’s Licenses.
“Pay a little bit more money to upgrade to an Enhanced Driver’s License and you can use that for domestic travel by air.”
A spokesman for the State Department of Motor Vehicles said, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security still has not set a firm date for enforcing the new tighter regulations, and has been assured by DHS they will get ample prior notification so New Yorkers don’t get blindsided.
Before that starting next month, certain federal facilities will also require the more secure forms of identification for admitting visitors. Homeland Security has issued a list of frequently asked questions regarding the REAL ID Act of 2005, and you can see the FAQ’s here.