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Confused about which driver’s license is best for you? Will you need a passport? This information will help you to be travel-ready by October 2020.

As your county clerk, I constantly get questions about this topic. I hope you keep this information and refer to it when you are ready to decide if you need to make any change to your driver’s license or non-driver ID.

In October 2020, travel and identification requirements will change. Some of you will have to upgrade your license or get a passport. Some of you will not need to change your ID or license.

Below is information about the four choices you have: There are three different types of driver licenses/non-driver IDs, or you might choose to get a U.S. passport. To help you make the best decision for you and your family, I have broken down the information to help clear up any confusion.

Here are your choices:

1. Standard license or non-driver ID

Choose this type of license if you know that you will never step onto an airplane, never enter a federal building and never step onto a military base.

You can just keep your standard driver’s license:

• There is no need to upgrade to another type of license.

• It’s easy: Just visit our local DMV office when it’s time to renew your license.

COST: License: $64 every eight years; non-driver ID: $10 every four years

How long will it take me to get this in the mail? About 10 days.

2. REAL ID license or non-driver ID 

Choose this type of license (or a passport — see below) if you are only planning to fly within the United States.

• Allows you to board a domestic flight (a flight within the United States).

• Allows you to enter a federal building, or step onto a military base.

• Does not allow you to cross the border into Mexico or Canada.

• A DMV office visit is required; a new photo will be taken.

Documents you will need:

• Certified birth certificate (hospital certificates not acceptable) or a valid U.S. passport

• Either an original Social Security Card, W-2 or 1099, or a pay stub that has your full social security number on it.

• Name changes: If you have ever changed your name (through marriage or other reason) you will need to provide the official document(s) that prove your legal name change, e.g. certified divorce decree, certified marriage certificate or certified court papers.

COST: There is no additional cost for this license if you are renewing your license. However, if you are upgrading from a standard license to this REAL ID license, there is a $12.50 fee.

How long will it take me to get this license in the mail? About 10 days

3. Enhanced driver's license or non-driver ID

You must be a U.S. citizen to get this license.

• Allows you to board a domestic flight (a flight within the United States).

• It does not allow you to fly into another country.

• Allows you to cross the border to Canada and Mexico by land or by sea only — it does not allow you to fly into those countries.

• Allows you to enter a federal building and allows you to go on a military base.

• A DMV office visit is required; a new photo will be taken.

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Documents you will need:

• Certified birth certificate (hospital certificates not acceptable)

• Either an original Social Security Card, W-2 or 1099, or a pay stub that has your full social security number on it.

• Name changes: If you have ever changed your name (through marriage or other reason) you will need to provide the official document(s) that prove your legal name change, e.g. certified divorce decree, certified marriage certificate or certified court papers.

COST: $30 additional fee. (If you are renewing your license, the $30 is in addition to the renewal fee of $64.50, so the total cost is $94.50.)

If you are upgrading your license but you don’t need to renew at the same time, you will pay $30 in addition to the amendment fee of $12.50 so the total will be $42.50.

How long will it take me to get this in the mail? About 10 days

NOTE: All New York state driver's licenses are valid for eight years; non-driver IDs are valid for four years.

For questions about the above licenses, call our local DMV office at (315) 253-1241. Leave a voicemail and we will get back to you.

4. U.S. passport

If you believe that you will be traveling on international flights (flying out of our country), you will need a U.S. passport. You must be a U.S. citizen to get a passport.

The passport is the best form of ID that a U.S. citizen can get.

• Allows you to travel to any place in the world by air, land and sea.

• You can apply for a passport at the Cayuga County Clerk's Recording Office located across the hall from the DMV office on the first floor of the Cayuga County Office Building, 160 Genesee St., Auburn. For more information, call the clerk’s office at (315) 253-1271.

Documents you will need:

• Certified birth certificate (or naturalization certificate)

• Driver's license (or non-driver ID) (you don’t need a REAL ID license)

COST (includes photos):

• Adults 16 and older: Separate payments of $110 personal check or money order and $50 cash (valid for 10 years)

• Children, age 1 day to 15 years old: Separate payments of $80 personal check or money order and $50 cash (valid for five years)

How long will it take for me to get this in the mail? It takes six to eight weeks from the day of application; expediting options are available if you want to pay additional fees to get the passport in about three weeks.

FAQs

Q. If I want to take a family trip to Canada, do children under the age of 16 need to get an enhanced license in order to cross the border?

A. No. Children younger than 16 can cross the border to Canada or Mexico by land or by sea if they have a certified copy of their birth certificate, and they need to be accompanied by adults who have their required travel documents (either a passport or an enhanced driver’s license).

Q. Do all children need a passport to fly out of the United States?

A. Yes: Any person, regardless of age, will need to have a U.S. passport to fly into another country.

Q. Do I need a passport to get on a cruise ship?

A. All cruise ships are different. They travel to different places, and they all have different requirements. We strongly suggest that you get that answer in writing from your cruise ship or travel company.

Q. The new license requirements don’t go into effect until October 2020. When do you think I should upgrade my license or get a passport if I want to be ready to travel?

A. Don’t wait too long. If you are planning a trip in spring, and you don’t have the upgraded document you need, try your best to get this done before the holidays begin at the end of this year. We are already seeing an upswing in the amount of upgraded licenses and passports.

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Sue Dwyer is the Cayuga County clerk. For more information, call (315) 253-1271, visit cayugacounty.us, email sdwyer@cayugacounty.us or visit the clerk's office at the Cayuga County Office Building, 160 Genesee St., Auburn.

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