If you’ve been reading this blog for the last couple of years, you’ve probably seen me write about exciting destinations or interesting travel tips. I know this month’s topic isn’t quite as thrilling, but it is NECESSARY to inform you about REAL ID, in case you haven’t heard.
If you’ve been to an airport lately, chances are you’ve seen the signs declaring “ID Requirements Are Changing.” REAL ID legislation provides increased security on driver’s licenses and other photo identification cards. Congress passed this legislation back in 2005, partly in response to 9/11, but delays and extensions hampered implementation. While the original deadline was October 1, 2020, COVID delayed the deadline. However, you must have a REAL ID-compliant credential to board commercial flights within the United States by the new deadline of May 3, 2023.
Some states still don’t have REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses (hello, Oklahoma, and Oregon??). Since you’re lucky enough to live in the rest of the U.S., it’s as simple as going to the nearest DMV/Driver Services Center. The best way to check if you already have REAL ID is to look at your driver’s license itself. If you see a star in the upper right-hand corner, then your ID is already compliant with REAL ID regulations.
If the star is missing, you’ll either need to renew before you take your next domestic flight or use alternative identification (such as a passport or other TSA-approved alternative form of identification). If you choose to use your driver’s license, then you’ll need to go to a DMV/Driver Services Center. The renewal process is more complicated than a standard renewal due to the new security requirements.
I don’t know about your state, but in Tennessee, to get a REAL ID, you’ll need to show:
• Two forms of proof of Tennessee Residency (i.e., utility bills, bank statement, current driver’s license)
• Proof of identity (i.e., valid birth certificate, unexpired passport)
• Proof of citizenship status (i.e., U.S. birth certificate, proof of residency card, unexpired passport)
• Proof of social security number (i.e., W-2, social security card)
Federal law requires that you make your first application for a REAL ID-compliant credential in person. After the first one, you may renew online, use a Self-Service Kiosk or visit a County Clerk Office.
It is your choice to get a REAL ID license. If you fly domestically and want the convenience of carrying your driver’s license or ID credential to board your flights, or don’t have another TSA-approved alternative form of identification, you will want to obtain a REAL ID. You can still use your regular driver’s license for routine activities such as driving and cashing checks (does anyone still do this?) if you choose not to get REAL ID.
No, you will receive a paper interim REAL ID compliant credential. If you have an upcoming trip, please allow enough time before to receive your hard copy in the mail. A paper credential will be rejected at the airport. The hard copy will arrive in the mail in approximately 10-20 days.
If you’d like more information on this less-than-exciting (but necessary) topic, please refer to the following website:
With just over a year to go before REAL ID is mandatory nationwide for air travel, and the deadline will arrive before you know it. This time next year, people will rush to renew their driver’s licenses as the the deadline approaches, there will be a backlog and long wait times. To avoid the rush, don’t put off getting your REAL ID!
As your trusted travel resource, I’m happy to be of any assistance! Until next time, I hope your next trip is more exciting than your trip to the DMV!
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