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Real ID, real problems: States cope with changing rules, late rollouts

Elaine S. Povich, Stateline.org on

Published in Home and Consumer News

WASHINGTON -- In half a dozen states, including the most populous state of California, the Real ID rollout is a real mess.

Technical glitches, delays and miscommunication are roiling the Real ID implementation in those states, calling into question whether residents will have the secure driver's license needed to travel by air or enter government-restricted areas after October 2020.

In California and Maryland, miscommunication between the state motor vehicle departments and the federal Department of Homeland Security about which documents are required to prove residency have sent the states and residents scrambling to recertify Real IDs that were already issued but are no longer valid.

A handful of other states initially delayed implementation by passing laws saying they would not comply for various reasons, from privacy concerns to objections to federal mandates. DHS granted those states more time but is refusing further extensions -- and has warned states that if they don't comply, their residents will need passports to board planes. That brought those states on board, but they are running behind in their efforts.

Some of the states are shifting resources to the problem, finding they must hire more personnel and spend extra money to comply by the deadline.

DHS has postponed the original deadline of 2008 many times since the Real ID law was enacted in 2005, but the department says it has no plans to extend the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.

 

After that date, only driver's licenses that meet the Real ID security standards can be used to board commercial airline fights or enter a secure federal building such as a military base. The Real ID Act, passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, requires licenses to be marked with a special insignia or star, indicating that holders have gone through extra steps to prove their identity.

In general, that requires identification documents, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate (for name changes) and original Social Security card, plus two proofs of residency in that state, such as credit card or utility bills, vehicle registration or a bank statement.

A Real ID will not be required to drive a car, so anyone not planning air travel or to enter a secure federal building will not need one. But people lacking the ID who want to board a plane would have to bring another valid document, such as a passport or global entry card.

TSA, which secures U.S. airports, anticipates some confusion come October 2020.

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