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Everything you need to know about the upcoming Real ID rules

By Kevin Brouillard, on

Published in Fashion Daily News


As of publishing, four remaining states and territories that have yet to achieve Real ID compliance are American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, and Oregon. Both Pacific territories are currently under review, meaning that they will be permitted to start issuing Real IDs as soon as they are deemed compliant. Oklahoma and Oregon both received an extension. Oklahoma plans to begin issuing Real ID-compliant driver's licenses and identification cards on April 30, 2020, whereas Oregon may begin on July 6th, 2020. Note that the COVID-10 pandemic may impact these dates.

There have been significant disparities in implementation between states. For instance, Georgia has been issuing compliant identification since 2012, while states like California and New Jersey only began doing so in 2018 and early 2020, respectively. As of January 2017, only 26 states were compliant, meaning that 22 states have only just become Real ID compliant in the past three years. However, that does not mean that every license or ID card issued since that date is actually compliant. From the 48 compliant states, 95 million Real ID-compliant driver's license and ID cards have been issued, which accounts for just 34% of license holders.


While there are certainly millions of Americans who will need to update their driver's license to fly domestically in the fall of 2021, many travelers already possess forms of ID that satisfy the rule change. For starters, a U.S. passport or passport card will suffice, though some travelers may prefer to carry a sleeker, less expensive form of ID. Residents in the Canadian-border states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington state will be glad to know that a state-issued Enhanced Driver's License is approved as well. An Enhanced License similarly requires an in-person application, but has the added perk of allowing land and sea border crossings to Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean nations. Other compliant forms of ID include a foreign government-issued passport, permanent resident card, federally-recognized tribal photo ID, Canadian provincial driver's license, and traveler cards like Global Entry and NEXUS. The most notable exception to the rule change is TSA Pre-Check, which is not considered Real ID-compliant.

A handful of exemptions for having a Real ID when flying domestically exist as well. TSA does not require that Children under 18 show identification for domestic travel. Travelers who forget their valid identification at home or lost it during their travels aren't totally out of luck either. Under these circumstances, travelers must agree to a verification process with a TSA officer. This entails collecting information to confirm one's identity, such as name, address, and date of birth. Cooperating and passing this process may involve additional screening by individual pat down and inspecting carry-on baggage.


On March 23, the federal government postponed the Real ID deadline from October 1st, 2020 to October 1st, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DMV offices are closed around the country except for commercial licensing in some cases, and since the application requires in-person appointments, Americans are unable to obtain a Real ID for the time being. The extension will also discourage a rush on DMV offices upon reopening while social distancing is still an essential precaution. Given the unprecedented circumstances, it's advisable to keep an eye out for additional changes and updates.


In the meantime, there is no harm in preparing the necessary documentation to submit online and get a jump on the application process. This documentation includes items like social security cards and driver's licenses that can prove an applicant's identity and residency. While this online option is certainly helpful in streamlining the process, you'll still have to visit the DMV for an in-person meeting.


Applicants have several options at their disposal for obtaining a Real ID. An existing form of ID that includes your full legal name and birthday is required, such as a driver's license or passport. If you do not have a valid license or ID card, you will likely need to verify your age via birth certificate. The remaining requirements that need to be satisfied are proof of residency and social security status. Residency can be established with a standard state-issued license, permit, or non-driver ID in combination with another document that verifies your address, such as a bank statement, utility bill, credit card bill, high school photo ID and report card, or pay stub. You can verify your social security status with either a social security card or a tax form, such as a W-2 or state income tax or earning statement that includes your full social security number. If you've changed your name from what is on your birth certificate, you may need to submit a marriage certificate or other documentation granting the name change.


The cost varies by state, but is cheaper than a passport book across the board. New York does not charge an additional fee for a Real ID-compliant driver's license, while Virginia and California tack on additional fees of $10 and $35, respectively. Residents in states like Pennsylvania, which charges $60 for a new ID, may want to opt for a comparably priced passport card ($65), since it grants a wider range of travel accessibility. Be sure to check with your own state's fees and pay attention for varied rates based on license expiration date and age.


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