I have heard about the driver license changes over the years, but never really paid much attention to the details as my and my wife's licenses were not due for renewal until 2019. I also knew that ID for boarding an airplane was "going to change" but the actual dates were constantly pushed back. Well the actual date is now October 1, 2020.
Well, my wife's license was due for renewal first, and mine later in the year, so we planned to "understand everything" and renew her license during the
Christmas holiday break this year (like right now).
For New York, here's what we found out:
Standard License: Just for driving, cannot be used for Federal ID purposes like entering a Federal building or boarding a domestic bound airplane after 10/1/2020. Can be renewed by mail/electronically or in person at DMV.
REAL ID License: Driving, CAN be used for entering Federal buildings, CAN be used for boarding a domestic bound airplane after 10/1/2020. As I understand it, you MUST apply in person at DMV, you need to bring proof of citizenship (valid passport, certified birth certificate) and you must bring 2 proof of address. Cost is the same as a standard license and the time spent at DMV.
Enhanced ID License: Same privileges as a REAL ID license, with the addition of CAN be used to enter US from Canada, Mexico and Caribbean by "land or sea", but not by air. This is the same as the current "passport card". Cost is $30 more than standard/REAL ID license, and you must go to DMV. Note that getting a passport card also costs $30 more than just the passport book. (in NY licenses are good for 8 years, and passports are good for 10 years ... not much difference, but a passport card is a better deal but then you have to carry a second card)
Since my wife had to go to DMV anyway, I decided to renew my license at the same time, and I had the time this week because I'm home from work for the holidays. We already have passport cards, and intend (probably) to again get passport cards in the future since our daughter lives in upstate NY and about 45 minutes to the Canadian border. Though if we think we're going to leave the country, we usually plan to take our passports, but when we're visiting daughter, a spur of the moment road trip can sometimes come up. So we decided to both get Enhanced licenses.
We'll probably carry both if we leave the country so if we happen to lose our wallet, we'll have an easier time getting back into US.
So here's what came up just before we went to renew ... Enhanced ID licenses will contain an RFID chip, similar to the passport card. We store our passport cards in RFID protected envelops when not immediately needed. We carry our licenses everywhere we go, and now should we have to worry about scanners stealing the RFID information from our licenses?
I guess we plan to keep our licenses in RFID blocking sleeves in our wallets, but that seems to be a bother, or we're going to buy RFID blocking wallets.
It's a done deal for us, Enhanced licenses are on their way, but I just wanted to get some opinions.
Oh BTW, before you go to DMV, check your state's DMV website to see what you will need to upgrade your license if you decide to do so. We saw one guy wait about 30 minutes to get to the counter, only to be told he didn't have enough "proof" to get the Enhanced license he needed. He'll have to come back and wait again.
And your particular state may be different than New York, so be prepared before you go.
Except for the line at our "normally empty" local DMV office, it was basically a painless procedure. And though I renewed 10 months early, my new expiration month and day did not change, so I didn't lose the time doing it early.
Just my 2 cents. (Sorry for the long post)