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Five big questions about REAL ID answered

Local News

October 2020 is the deadline for REAL ID, and by then, you’ll need either that or an Enhanced Driver’s License to board a domestic flight or enter a federal building.

With 500 days to go, and an acknowledgment from officials that REAL IDs can be real complicated to understand, here are some questions people in Western New York might be asking.

Can I go to Canada with only a REAL ID?

No, it’s not a substitute for an Enhanced. You’ll need a passport in addition to the REAL ID. An enhanced driver’s license will get you into Canada and back across the border.

If you’re flying internationally, you’ll need a passport.

Which costs more — a REAL ID or an Enhanced Driver’s License?

There is an additional $30 fee to get an Enhanced. There is no additional cost with a REAL ID.

Officials said a renewal would cost $64.50 and get you a REAL ID, and an Enhanced would cost $94.50.

What do you need to secure either a REAL or an Enhanced?

You’ll need to prove your citizenship for either so the documents that you need are the same: Proof of citizenship in a birth certificate or passport; a Social Security card or other proof of your Social Security number, such as a pay stub with your name, current address and SS, or a W-2 or 1099 form if your Social Security number was previously verified.

You have to make an office visit for both, so an appointment is recommended.

What if I just want to renew a standard driver’s license?

You can renew online or by mail. Commercial driver’s licenses must be renewed in person.

What do officials recommend?

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns encourages everyone to consider the Enhanced Driver’s License but even if you don’t travel, he advises you to secure a REAL ID, because even though you might not fly domestically often or ever, you could encounter a family emergency. He also encourages people to consider the status of their passport.

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