REAL ID deadline nears but here's how and where to get the license if you want to board your flight safely
The REAL ID Act of 2005—set to come into effect soon—was passed in order to improve airport security after the 9/11 attacks and establishes minimum security standards
Come October 2020, if you don't have a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card, you may not be allowed to get on a domestic flight, irrespective of whether your state is compliant or not. According to the Department of Homeland Security website, although the REAL ID compliance is voluntary, Federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver's licenses or identification cards from noncompliant states for official purposes.
Here's everything you need to know about REAL ID.
Why is it important?
The REAL ID Act of 2005 will come into effect and, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the Act covers the accessing of Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.
It was passed in order to improve airport security after the 9/11 attacks and establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards and incase your ID proof does not meet these standards, Federal agencies cannot accept them.
What does it look like?
REAL ID is not a national identification card but rather a set of security standards. In most states, REAL ID-compliant licenses have a gold star on the corner of the card, but some states, like Hawaii, Ohio, Tennessee, and Utah do not have them.
Another form of REAL ID is the Enhanced Driver's Licenses which are being issued in Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington State. Read about how to get those here. The REAL ID-compliant licenses are being issued for the past couple of years so it is possible that your license may already meet the standards.
For states that have an extension, you can travel domestically via air with your license. If you don't have a REAL ID, you will need a passport to travel domestically.
You can also use a Global Entry card. You can get one through the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website and will cost a $100 in nonrefundable application fee. All US citizens and US lawful permanent residents are eligible for Global Entry membership. Find out how to apply for the card here.
How to get it?
You have to apply for a REAL ID in person at your local DMV. Bring along your proof of identity and name change, proof of Social Security number and two proofs of residency. Make sure the documents are not laminated, abstracted or abbreviated. Documents you can carry are a bringing a birth certificate or passport, a Social Security card or tax form such as a W-2, and two proofs of address. If the name change is due to marriage, bring along your marriage certificate.
How much does it cost?
The price of a REAL ID varies from state to state from $10 to $80.
Do you need it?
It is an optional process and you need it mandatorily in three scenarios. If you wish to travel using only your state-issued ID card, you don't have a passport or a TSA approved identity card or would be visiting a federal facility that needs your identification.
If you're under 18 years of age or bring your passport or TSA approved ID, you don't need a REAL ID card. If your ID card is used only for the purpose of identification, you don't need a REAL ID.
When does it come into effect?
In the rest of the country, it comes into effect on October 1, 2020. In states that have an extension, namely, Oregan, Oklahoma, Kentucky, New Jersey and Maine, it will come into effect on October 10, 2019. However, in case of any more extensions that date is subject to change.
What will Real ID not affect?
The REAL ID requirements do not apply to vote or registering to vote, receiving federal benefits, being licensed to drive by the state, entering federal facilities that do not require identification or accessing hospitals or clinics, law enforcement, and constitutionally protected activities. It is not, however, a substitute for a passport and can't be used for international travel.
You can find additional information on the Homeland Security website.
DMVs spreading thin
According to a report in NBC News, 95 million Real IDs, 34 percent of the total have been issued already. However, that leaves a lot of ground to cover, so that people who want to use a license to board a plane can continue to do so. Sue Fulton, chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, told the news outlet, "Demand outstrips the number of available Real ID appointments." In Oklahoma, only a few numbers of offices will begin issuing the Real ID from April 30. In Oregon, the date is in July. "If we worked 24/7, we'd have to do seven a minute to get the number of licenses out by October. But there's no way that we could do seven a minute," Tom Fuller, a spokesman for the state transportation department, to NBC.
Airports Council has demanded a delay but the White House has declined to comment. There have also not been any indications from the Department of Homeland Security that they would grant the request.
'Crisis waiting to happen'
The Airports Council International-North America a representative of most of the airports in the country said that it would leave a lot of passengers stranded if this act gets implemented. ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke told NBC News, "If the government doesn't make a definitive statement now that they're going to extend this, then we're going to have a real crisis on our hands come Oct. 1," he said.