What Do I Need to Know About the New Real ID License?

There are many circumstances in life where a person is required to show proof of their identity. This can include traveling on a plane or entering certain federal buildings. Usually, a general driver’s license did the trick. However, the laws regarding these licenses are changing within the new year. Beginning on October 1, 2020, people in the United States are required to have a Real ID license in order to be admitted to these locations. With the deadline approaching, many people are still unaware of the change or have questions. The following is important information to be aware of and how to obtain the Real ID.

What is a Real ID?

The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, stemming from the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government set new standards for issuing sources of identification. This new act established minimum security standards for driver’s licenses that are issued by every state. Beginning on the determined date, the law prohibits Federal agencies from accepting identification cards that do not meet these standards for the designated purposes. Official purposes for a Real ID can include entering Federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft. A Real ID is not an extra identification card, but rather an upgraded license.

How Do I Get a Real ID?

While the Real ID is not required for almost another year, it is important to not wait until the last minute to apply for yours. There is a great deal of preparation that goes into receiving a Real ID. This includes gathering necessary documents, waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and receiving the identification in the mail. It is because of this that it is best to begin the process early, as any travelers who show up at an airport after the designated date without a Real ID will not be permitted to go through the security checkpoint. 

When applying for a Real ID, applicants must prove who they are, where they live, and what their social security number is. This can be done with documentation showing the following:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Two proofs of address of principal residence
  • Lawful status

It is important to know that children under the age of 18 are not required to have proof of identification when traveling with a companion in the United States. Therefore, they do not need a Real ID.

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