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Everything You Need to Know About REAL IDs



As of early 2018, many State’s DMVs have begun offering federally-compliant REAL ID driver's licenses or ID cards as an option to their customers. This new, secure ID format will be a requirement for anyone that wishes to use their driver’s license or state-issued identification to board a domestic flight or enter military bases and most federal facilities. The federal government will enforce this requirement as of October 1, 2020.

REAL ID Information & Requirements

The REAL ID requirement comes from the REAL ID Act. According to the Department of Homeland Security: “The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.”

The DHS further explains REAL ID and the REAL ID Act by stating that: “secure driver's licenses and identification documents are a vital component of our national security framework. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.”

REAL ID Enforcement

In the 12 years since the REAL ID Act was passed, half of all states have already met the REAL ID minimum standards. For those that still need to meet the requirements, they will have to adhere to the below schedule of enforcement phases.

  • Phase 1: Restricted areas (i.e., areas accessible by agency personnel, contractors, and their guests) for DHS’s Nebraska Avenue Complex (NAC) headquarters.
  • Phase 2: Restricted areas for all Federal facilities and nuclear power plants.
  • Phase 3: Semi-restricted areas (i.e., areas available to the general public but subject to ID-based access control) for most Federal facilities (subject to limitations described in the next section). Access to Federal facilities will continue to be allowed for purposes of applying for or receiving Federal benefits.
  • Phase 4: Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.
  • For each of the above described phases, they “will begin with a 3-month period where agencies will provide notice to individuals attempting to use driver’s licenses or identification cards from noncompliant states but still allow access. After this period is over, agencies will no longer accept such identification for entry to Federal facilities...” [source]

    REAL ID Compliant States

    Here is a map from the Department of Homeland Security that represents the current compliance status of each state, as of April 2, 2018.

    Screen_Shot_2018_04_05_at_10_23_00_PM

    If your state is one of those that already offers the ability to procure a REAL ID when renewing your driver’s license, there’s no time like the present to jump in and get it done!

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