ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) -- New Yorkers have a little over five months before they're going to need a Real ID to fly or drive out of the Empire State. State and County Officials were at the Ithaca Tompkins International Airport Thursday morning to encourage people to get one as soon as possible.  

“There are 15.8 million New Yorkers who have a license, so I’m encouraging them to get a Real ID or Enhanced Driver's License.” New York State DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder, said, adding “This federal requirement is nationwide, so all states have to comply.”  

Starting in May 2023, people wanting to fly domestically will need a Real ID-compliant driver's license or photo ID. The plan to implement the Real ID started way back in 2005 with the hope of making air travel safer following September 11th.  

“Back when 9/11 happened, there was a federal commission, and the commission came up with guidelines to make it safer for all Americans, and so the Real ID is a part of that,” Schroeder said.  

Tompkins County Clerk Maureen Reynolds is recommending people fill out their paperwork ahead of time. She says they can come to her office to get a passport, which is automatically Real ID compliant.  

"We see the people in line, so we understand the struggles,” Reynolds said, adding, “Our goal is to make sure everyone is helped and gets sent to the trip of where they need to go.”  

The Real ID is indicated with a star on the top right corner. People have until May 3rd to become Real ID compliant, otherwise, they won't be able to board a flight.  

Those flying out of the country must still have a passport.