Concerns that travelers from New York and three other states would need to use passports instead of driver’s licenses as airport ID have been postponed, at least temporarily.
With a 2016 deadline approaching and four states plus American Samoa still not in compliance with the new minimum standards of the federal Real ID system, the Department of Homeland Security yesterday issued them a one-year extension.
Without it, travelers from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa would not have been able to travel on an airplane or cruise ship with their state-issued driver’s licenses.
The Real ID system was created by an act of Congress, in keeping with recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, that “set standards of the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The last phase of its enforcement was supposed to kick in by 2016.
"This extension guarantees that New Yorkers will be able to use their driver licenses or ID cards as they did before," a New York Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson said in a statement.
"DMV continues to work with DHS to ensure all New York State licenses and non-driver IDs remain acceptable for REAL ID purposes.”
New York residents can head off future concerns by applying for an Enhanced Driver’s License that meets REAL ID standards. They are available now at DMV offices, for a $30 fee.
New Hampshire was granted an extension by Homeland Security, “as a result of ongoing legislative efforts to bring the state into compliance,” the state’s House of Representatives said in a press release. Its House will vote on a bill in January to bring it into compliance.
Louisiana’s extension came earlier in the week and was announced by State Police Colonel Michael Edmonson and U.S. Senator David Vitter last Friday. Gov. Bobby Jindal has been unwilling to bring the state up-to-code with the REAL ID requirements because of the “extra layers of bureaucracy” it will require.
And while Minnesota's ID is already not sufficient to enter several federal buildings or nuclear power plants, the extension will still allow its residents on domestic flights and cruises without the need for a passport. Worries in Minnesota about the new requirements have come from privacy concerns over what the new act will do.
Rep. Peggy Scott and Sen Warren Limmer from the state have voiced their concerns that the new IDs will allow the federal government to keep track of a resident’s whereabouts, even though Homeland Security has denied that since the act was passed.