Long lines, even longer wait times, grumpy employees, and lots of headaches - that pretty much sums up a trip to the DMV in a nutshell for many of us. 

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There’s a lot of places we’d rather be than at a New York State DMV office (stuck in traffic and a teeth cleaning at the dentist both come to mind). 

The fact is, we’ve all got to deal with the torture of the DMV at one time or another. And if you’ve got plans to hop on a plane in the next few years, you’re going to need to face this necessary evil to get your REAL ID or Enhanced ID

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Why Do We Need To Get A REAL ID?

Soon, our regular drivers license won’t cut it anymore if you’re looking to fly anywhere in the United States. 

Beginning May 7, 2025, anyone 18 and older will need a REAL ID, Enhanced ID, or passport to fly domestically.

Believe it or not, Congress actually passed the Real ID Act back in 2005 in order to set federal standards for identification cards. However, the due date to enforce them kept getting pushed back thanks to lack of funding, possible travel interruptions, and - oh yeah - a global pandemic. 

Now that the date to get a REAL ID is right around the corner, New York State is encouraging residents to get theirs sooner rather than later, to avoid a last-minute scramble at the deadline. 

For anyone else who dreads going to the DMV, New York State has made it easier to get your REAL ID or Enhanced License without having to go back to one of their offices over and over again. 

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The Easiest Way To Get Your REAL ID or Enhanced License In New York State

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicle has launched an online portal for New York State residents in certain counties looking to obtain a REAL ID, enhanced license or non-driver ID. The online tool allows you to submit your application, proof of identification, and proof of residency documents before ever stepping foot into a DMV location. 

The online system can also be used for drivers looking to exchange an out of state license for a New York State one. 

In order to use it, you’ll need to set up an account with NY.gov. If you already have an NY.gov ID, make sure you know your username and/or password, or else you’ll have to take the steps to reset it. 

Which New York State Counties Offer Online Pre-Screening For REAL IDS?

Unfortunately, this tool isn’t yet available for every New York State resident. However, the following counties can save some time at the DMV by uploading the necessary documents ahead of time:

  • Albany 
  • Broome 
  • Bronx
  • Chautauqua
  • Chemung 
  • Clinton 
  • Columbia 
  • Dutchess 
  • Erie 
  • Franklin 
  • Kings 
  • Madison 
  • Nassau 
  • New York 
  • Niagara 
  • Oneida
  • Onondaga 
  • Orange
  • Oswego 
  • Queens 
  • Richmond 
  • Rockland 
  • Saratoga 
  • Schenectady 
  • Schoharie 
  • St. Lawrence 
  • Suffolk 
  • Tompkins 
  • Wayne 
  • Westchester

If the county where you live isn’t listed, you can still check online to see which specific documents you need to bring to the DMV office with you to apply.

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How Much Does A New York REAL ID Cost?

If your license or ID is up for renewal, you can upgrade to a REAL ID at no additional charge beyond the standard renewal fee. If you want to grab one before that, it will cost you an extra $12.50.

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Gallery Credit: NYS DMV/Canva

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