The deadline for obtaining a Real ID is already in 2021: what you need to know
Effective October 1, 2021, Real ID will become one of the accepted forms of identification that travelers will have to use to go through airport security in accordance with the federal Real ID law. Aarp.
Certain federal documents, such as a passport or green card, can also be used for identification, but traditional driver's licenses after that date will no longer be accepted at TSA checks prior to commercial flights or to enter certain federal facilities.
According to an October 1 statement by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), nearly 110 million REAL ID driver licenses and IDs were issued this year, accounting for 40% of all such documents.
Conceived as part of the 2005 legislation following the 11/XNUMX terrorist attacks, the Real ID Act requires individuals to present high security IDs to pass through airport checkpoints or to enter certain federal facilities, such as military bases, after the law will begin to apply.
The Real ID is sometimes referred to as a “star card” because most states mark the ID with a gold or black star in the upper right corner. In addition, the card must also include a coded "machine readable zone" with scanned information about the person. Many state driving licenses already have this feature. The key point that makes the card special is that the federal government requires you to provide certain identification documents in order to receive it in your state.
All states are now offering Real ID after some significant delays. Some states and Washington, D.C. have issued Real ID cards for several years, while others have made Real ID cards available only recently - Oklahoma started issuing cards in late June and Oregon in July.
Coronavirus has been another hurdle, with DMV services in many states being suspended last spring, prompting some state legislators to demand that the federal government once again postpone the deadline for obtaining Real ID (the previous deadline was October 1, 2020, but in March it was postponed for another year from that date). Many DMV offices are now open, but with limited personal services; some - including New York, Arizona, and California - require visitors to make an appointment and bring their identification documents.
Since each state handles new requirements differently, and there has been a lot of confusion about how to get the cards and what they are, here's how to understand some of the basics of Real ID:
- To obtain a Real ID, you need to provide the DMV with documents proving your age and identity, social security number and address. This usually means having a birth certificate or passport, social security card or tax form such as W-2, and two proof of address. If you have changed your name as a result of marriage, you will need a marriage certificate;
- Although Real ID is also a driver's license, an old-style driver's license is still legal to drive and is available as an option in many states. Some states, such as Arizona and Kentucky, are trying to clarify this by calling Real ID "volunteer traveler ID";
- at some point after October 1, 2021, a regular driver's license will not be enough to allow passengers to pass through security and board the plane. Real ID is technically optional as you can instead use other approved documents, including a passport, passport card, U.S. military ID, extended ID (offered in some states), or ID from the federal government's Trusted Travelers program, such as Global Entry;
- for international travel, you will still need a passport.
Effective October 1, 2021, Real ID will become one of the accepted forms of identification that travelers will be required to use to go through airport security under the federal Real ID law.
Here are some of the current confusion and delays.
Many states are delaying issuing cards into circulation because some residents and lawmakers are concerned that Real ID was a way for the government to collect personal information for a national database. Lawmakers in Idaho, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and elsewhere have even passed laws barring their auto departments from enforcing new federal requirements, and so have had to catch up to meet a deadline that is now being postponed again. (Before the canceled October 2020 deadline, the due date was set for January 2018.)
In Kentucky, privacy issues were initially a concern, says Naitore Jigbenow, director of public affairs for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
“We told people that this is a map of the state,” she says. "There is no national database or something similar."
The DHS website emphasizes "Real ID is a national set of standards, not a national identity card," and each jurisdiction "maintains its own records and controls who accesses those records, and under what circumstances."
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Problems with paperwork
For some people, getting the proper paperwork is a challenge because their birth or marriage certificate is not actually state-of-residence and therefore not sufficient. Maryland residents age 65 and older can apply for other documents in lieu of a birth certificate, including a dismissal from the military, says Christine Nizer, Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration administrator. "We wanted to provide alternatives to make this process as easy as possible." The state has an online document guide to help residents figure out what they need.
In other states, if you do not have a passport, you will need a birth certificate - and it must be officially issued by the state, not just a pretty document that your parents could get from the hospital where you were born. Some people had to return to their hometown to get an official copy from the city archives.
Department of Homeland Security recommendations
To avoid confusion regarding the requirements of the REAL ID Law, on official DHS website offers instructions like this:
- Check your state driver's license or ID for a star. Real ID compatible cards are marked with an asterisk in the upper left or right corner. Most viable alternatives, such as a state-issued Extended Driver's License (EDL), which is available in five states and can be used to enter the United States when crossing land and sea borders, do not have an asterisk but are acceptable for Real ID purposes. More about such rights - link.
- Please bring your identity documents to the airport that are allowed for domestic flights. Check if you have flight ID, on this page... The TSA website has a list of acceptable forms of identification that people can use to verify their identity at a security checkpoint. If you need to obtain a new form of identification, you must have sufficient time before traveling. Currently, the processing time for US passports is approximately 10 weeks for regular service and two to three weeks for expedited service.
- Check in advance with the federal agency you plan to visit to find out if ID is required, and if so, what types of ID documents are acceptable. While most federal agencies will continue to accept inappropriate driver's licenses and IDs until the October 1, 2021 deadline, some - such as the Department of Defense's offices and posts - may no longer accept them.
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