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What identification do I need to ride the subway?

2 posts
What identification do I need to ride the subway?

I'm visiting from Germany and planning to leave my passport in the hotel with my work group while I take a trip around NYC. Will I need identification, like my passport, to be able to purchase a normal ticket for the subway in NYC?

18 replies to this topic
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
77 posts
126 reviews
1. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

No, you just need your credit card or cash to buy a metrocard, no ID is asked.

Queens, NY
Level Contributor
9,183 posts
16 reviews
2. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

You do not need ANY identification to ride the subway. Ticket machines take cash or credit cards. However, there are often problems with European credit cards, so it's good to have US cash on hand to purchase your Metrocard.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
3,366 posts
48 reviews
3. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

You need a government idea to go to a bar, but not to ride the subway.

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
27,970 posts
27 reviews
4. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

It doesn't seem like you might be over 65, but if you were you'd need proof of age to get senior discounted tickets.

But you should have "some" sort of id on you just for safety purposes - will you have a driver's license? If not, I'd take a copy of my passport.

Edited: 25 September 2018, 16:05
Voorhees, New Jersey
Level Contributor
1,867 posts
127 reviews
5. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

Whenever I traveled overseas, it was recommended that I carry a copy of my passport with me in case of emergencies. Unless you have some paperwork that would have a emergency contact number and contact, make a copy of your passport before you leave. It can’t hurt.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
981 posts
7 reviews
6. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

Always have ID on you, even if it is a photocopy of your passport. It's a big city and things happen. Even when I go for a bike ride or a run I take my drivers license with me - and I sold my car 20 years ago. When I travel internationally I lock my passport in the hotel safe and carry my Drivers License

Astoria, New York
Level Contributor
20,673 posts
7. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

In NYC you must be over 21 to purchase alcohol or cigarettes - you may or may not be asked for ID depending on the place and how old you look. If under 21, you can go into many places that serve alcohol but cannot drink. (Some venues check at the door and only permit drinking age people as a convenience for their business - but admittance is at the discretion of management not a law)

The only other thing I can think of is if you need to pick up tickets or merchandise held in your name - they might want to see ID (Picking up Crown tickets for the Statue of Liberty for example) It would be very rare to have to show ID to use a credit card or something like that.

As mentioned above, you should carry some form of ID in case of problems - in the very unlikely event you had an encounter with the police they would want to be able to verify your identify - even if you are a victim or witness). If you don't have any ID on you they might escort you back to your hotel to verify

IIRC Germans have a national ID card? I think my German visitors used them at bars here, (We have nothing similar here so we use drivers licenses for most stuff. that requires ID)

Edited: 25 September 2018, 16:21
Level Contributor
204 posts
8. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

None, but take something just in case.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
3,366 posts
48 reviews
9. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

Also: If you're not carrying ID, can you put emergency notification information on your phone? Many phones have a feature where that info can be accessed even on a locked phone.

New York, New York
Level Contributor
14,437 posts
115 reviews
10. Re: What identification do I need to ride the subway?

In addition to bars, many times you're asked for ID when you purchase alcohol at sports events, so I would bring your actual passport. It's good to keep a copy of it at home and at the hotel.

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