New York City Offers Municipal ID for All New Yorkers, Including Unauthorized Immigrants

New York City Offers Municipal ID for All New Yorkers, Including Unauthorized Immigrants

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner Steven Banks, and Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal have announced on December 5, 2014 the full eligibility criteria and operational details of the New York City Identification Card Program.  Officially named “IDNYC,” the program will make municipal identification cards – the “IDNYC Card” – available at no charge in order to to ensure that every New Yorker can obtain government issued identification and can access public and private services throughout the five boroughs.

IDNYC cards will be available to the public beginning in January 2015. Applicants must be at least 14 years of age and will be required to present proof of identity and residency in New York City.  Over 40 categories of documents may be used to establish identity, including foreign passports and consular identification cards, foreign birth certificates, military identification, U.S. high school diplomas, and U.S. voter registration cards.  Machine-readable passports will be accepted up to three years after expiration, but all other documents must be current.  To demonstrate residency, applicants may provide cable, phone or utility bills, bank statements, and residential leases, among other documents.  The documents will be accepted on a point-based system that weighs document value, similar to the system used by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.  There will be a 30-day window for applicants to appeal IDNYC denials.

The broad categories of documents will allow certain populations, including unauthorized immigrants living in New York City, to obtain government-issued identification.  In addition, applicants without a home address will be able to list a “Care Of” address on their card.  This will allow homeless New Yorkers to obtain government-issued identification.

The IDNYC card will provide access to New York City public and private services.  The card will also provide one-year free membership packages at 33 of the City’s leading cultural institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City Ballet, Brooklyn Museum, MoMA PS1, and the Bronx Zoo.  The membership term will be for one-year from the date a resident signs up with a participating cultural institution.  Membership, however, will not be available to existing members of a participating institution or individuals whose membership has lapsed since January 1, 2012.  As noted in Commissioner Agarwal’s presentation at the 11th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference and Assistant Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Kavita Pawria-Sanchez’s presentation at the September 29th CMS Conference, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) plans to continue working with businesses and community partners to make additional benefits available as the program grows.

The de Blasio administration has attempted to organize a safe and secure municipal ID program.  On July 10, 2014, Mayor de Blasio signed Local Law No. 35 on July 10, 2014, formally establishing the program.  On August 4, 2014, the Mayor signed Executive Order 6 of 2014 designating HRA as the administering agency of IDNYC.  After receiving feedback at an October 8th public hearing on proposed IDNYC rules, Commissioners Banks and Agarwal formed a workgroup to develop executive orders, mandating high levels of protection for cardholder information and stringent processes for dealing with third party requests of cardholder information.  Only HRA staff designated by the IDNYC Executive Director and the HRA General Counsel will have access to the IDNYC applicant database.  Additionally, all access to database and servers will be tracked through audit logs.  The enrollment system will feature ID verification scanning technology and high-tech cameras.  Nearly two dozen experienced HRA investigators have been hired as Integrity Specialists to protect against fraud and verify applicant identity.  The cards will be printed on polycarbonate cardstock and features will include an embedded hologram, applicant signature, an engraved City seal and a secondary, black and white ghost photo of the applicant.

New York City government plans to establish walk-in enrollment centers and mobile enrollment units.  Online applications will be made available for applicants to complete prior to visiting a walk-in or mobile enrollment location.  The City also plans to create a language access implementation plan to address the needs of limited English proficient individuals.

The IDNYC announcement follows the formation of Cities United for Immigration Action, a coalition of twenty-five mayors, including Mayor de Blasio, who have pledged to implement President Barack Obama’s Executive Action measures.  Other mayors include Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.  The coalition has also received support from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.  Mayor de Blasio will host 20 mayors, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and senior White House officials on December 8, 2014 in New York City for a one-day summit meeting.

More information on IDNYC, including a full list of enrollment center locations, is forthcoming.  For more information and program updates, visit:

Video of the announcement is available at