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Municipal ID Card Programs Take Hold in U.S. Cities

Often promoted for residents who do not hold drivers’ licenses, like homeless residents, young people and immigrants, ID cards are increasingly being issued in cities to access services like food assistance.

States issue valid identification in the form of drivers’ licenses and other IDs, and the federal government issues official documents like passports and Social Security cards. But over the last decade, a new way residents can present themeselves for official purposes has been on the rise: the municipal ID card. Cities — and a handful of counties — have begun to issue ID cards that let residents who do not hold a driver’s license access benefits specific to their jurisdiction. The cards are often promoted to young people, the elderly, homeless residents and immigrants. They can be used to access food assistance, library services and discounts at local businesses. Here’s a look at a sample of the nearly 20 cities large and small that GT found running municipal ID programs.


Name: Detroit ID
Agency: Health Dept. Administrative Office
Date Launched: December 2016
Services Available: Open utility accounts; open checking and savings accounts; local discounts; proof of ID to police and other authorities


Name: City Key Program
Agency: City Clerk’s Office
Date Launched: December 2017
Services Available: Transit card; library card; benefits at local businesses; ID for prescription drugs

New Haven, Conn.

Name: Elm City Resident Card
Agency: Vital Statistics Division
Date Launched: July 2007
Services Available: Open bank account; library access; valid ID for immigrants

New York City

Agency: IDNYC
Date Launched: January 2015
Services Available: Take the high school equivalency exam; open a bank account; prescription drug discounts; discounts on pet adoption fees

Northfield, Minn.

Name: City ID
Agency: Northfield Public Library
Date Launched: March 2018
Services Available: Local discounts; library access; city services access

Oakland, Calif.

Name: Oakland City ID
Agency: Oakland City ID
Date Launched: February 2013
Services Available: Proof of ID to local police and other authorities; access to homeless services; open a bank account; access food assistance

Providence, R.I.

Agency: Mayor’s Office
Date Launched: June 2018
Services Available: Proof of ID to police and other authorities; proof of residency; local discounts

Richmond, Calif.

Name: Richmond City ID
Agency: Richmond City ID
Date Launched: October 2014
Services Available: Prepaid debit card; proof of ID to local police and other authorities; valid
for use at community college; food assistance programs

San Francisco

Name: SF City ID Card
Agency: Office of the County Clerk
Date Launched: January 2009
Services Available: Medical and allergy information on the cardholder; ID for opening a checking account; public library card; local discounts