Why You Need to Get a NYC ID (And How Easy It Is to Do It!)

The IDNYC center in Sunset Park
The IDNYC center in Sunset Park

New York joined many major American cities, like San Francisco and Washington, D.C., this January when it began offering a new municipal identification card. IDNYC is most beneficial to undocumented immigrants, who cannot get state IDs, as well groups like the homeless or transgender. (New York State requires transgender people to bring a signed letter from a doctor testifying they’ve had a sex change, and requires them to choose male or female; the city just lets you pick male, female or neither, depending on how you identify rather than on your physician-certified biology.) The benefits to such marginalized groups are obvious—sometimes you need to prove to someone in authority who you are—but it’s important for those who don’t necessarily need the ID to sign up for one, too: to aid in the destigmatization, so that we don’t assume that anyone with an IDNYC is an undocumented, transgender homeless teenager.

The city has incentivized the program by partnering with myriad cultural organizations to offer free memberships, discounts and other perks. A full list is available here, but the highlights include a one-year membership at BAM, discounted tickets to Carnegie Hall and the Public Theater, free admission to the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Wave Hill, and the Aquarium, and much more. Plus, there’s the reward of doing your small part in helping to make other peoples’ lives easier, which in a perfect world one would be the only one you needed.

To top it off, IDNYC is easy to get, especially for those who don’t need it. An unexpired NYS driver’s license or non-driver’s ID is sufficient proof of identity and address, if your address is also current; otherwise, a full list of necessary documents can be found here. It’s basically like going to the DMV, except it’s nothing like that, because you can make an appointment—and they’ll actually keep it—any time from early morning to late evening.

The nearest location to Bay Ridge is in Sunset Park, on 43rd Street between Third and Fourth avenues, in what looks like a former rectory that’s been turned into a government office. I went on this past Saturday morning and within half an hour of my appointment, I was done—my forms filed out, entered into a computer, and my picture taken. (The Village Voice recommended not making an appointment, but in my experience that’s foolhardy; unless you desperately need one and can’t find an appointment like yesterday, you’ll wait a lot longer—the line for people without appointments was farther down the block, and they were only being admitted sparingly.)

It’s good for you, it’s good for everyone else, and it’s easy—you really have no excuse not to clear an hour within the next few weeks to get it done.

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