Obtaining the Free NYC ID: My Guide to Everything Cultural

Bleary Looks and Colorful Design
Bleary Looks and Colorful Design

About two weeks ago I walked into the Public Library to obtain my NYC ID. This ID is not to be mistaken with the NY State ID, as they are two different forms of identity. The municipal ID is something that has only been around since the beginning of this year and was implemented by Mayor de Blasio. Probably in the works for several years already, the initial idea behind it was to ensure that even illegal immigrants can have access to some of the most crucial city services. It’s therefore intended to help out those individuals who are “living in the shadows” but need some sort of proof of identity. Find more info in this article here. Supposedly, other cities have implemented this card system already, such as San Francisco, so NY can be considered a pioneer amongst it.

The NYC ID serves several purposes:

1) It is your proof of identity, as least in the city and around. Don’t use it for traveling, obviously, but you can use it when stopped by NYPD.

2) It’s considered a library card, so you wouldn’t have to sign up beforehand, I believe.

3) You can also open up a checking account with it, which must be neat for a lot of people who are non-residents.

4) Some pharmacies are discounted and I have yet to try out how exactly that works out.

5) Another nice perk of having the NYC ID is that it gives you access to 30 cultural institutions for the first year. That’s right – all those museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and other cool stuff I have never visited before because I didn’t want to spend the money – well, guess what? I can now just walk in and out and have some fun! Membership to those institutions is free for the first 365 days. Hopefully I will soon find out how easy it really is and get back to you on that part. I am kinda thrilled to be spending my summer searching for cultural stuff in this way. I am also stoked for the zoos and botanical gardens, because they are so fun to hang out at during the summer time!

6) You can get discounts for Broadway shows, sporting events and theme parks via the entertainment discount. Another area I have yet to try out!

7) Some Fitness, Wellness, and Community Centers will also give you a discount. I believe family discounts are more popular in this category.

8) There is a supermarket discount when it comes to Food Bazaar, but only during the week and from 7am to 7pm.

9) If you ever wanted to be a NYC tourist, you can purchase the New York Pass for a 25% discount, so that’s pretty neat. I might even do that, since my Austrian friend once told me it’s totally worth discovering New York through it.

So of course there are always a few drawbacks to the system. One major one is the horrendous waiting time when it comes to making an appointment online. Oh no, you can’t just walk into your next library and obtain the ID, that would be too easy. You have to seek out your nearest library online and make a proper appointment. Since February, waiting times have skyrocketed. I remember checking in March for a date at the BK Library and getting my first appointment for September ( a whooping 6 months later). Then my friend suggested to check out the Main Manhattan Library so I got an appointment maybe two days later. Which was awesome compared to six months! From walking in and waiting around, the entire procedure probably only took one hour. I say only because it’s a way better experience than dealing with the DMV, where you are waiting around for half a day and dealing with a lot of depressing workers. Compared to that, this was a piece of cake and the officials were pretty nice. Except for the part where they spelled my name wrong (the L in Laura was not capitalized) but oh dear, tiny problems, really!

I’d encourage anyone to get their NYC ID and take advantages of the great perks! The best part about it? It’s totally free!

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