Life in General

Getting my REAL ID

I need to renew my driver’s license this month.  In February, I got a postcard in the mail reminding me.  I don’t recall ever getting a reminder before.

Since I didn’t need to renew until April, I put the postcard on my bulletin board and made a note in my planner to look at it again when we got back from our March vacation.

Renewing my driver’s license online

I discovered I could renew online and assumed that’s what I would do.   I checked to see if I was eligible and I am.  Evidently, you can only renew online every other time.  No big deal.  It would save me a trip this time and that was worth it.

But then I read the postcard more closely and discovered something called REAL ID.  I suspect this was the reason for sending out the reminder card.

What is REAL ID?

“The REAL ID Act of 2005, Pub.L. 109–13, 119 Stat. 302, enacted May 11, 2005, is an Act of Congress that modifies U.S. federal law pertaining to security, authentication, and issuance procedures standards for state driver’s licenses and identity documents, as well as various immigration issues pertaining to terrorism.”  The REAL ID Act 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.”  Follow this link for a great article explaining the Act.

There has been plenty of conversation in recent months about the Real ID Act (this link provides FAQs) and how it will affect air travelers. The act is intended to prevent identity fraud, and starting on Jan. 22, 2018, fliers who reside in some states, even if they’re flying domestically, need identification other than a driver’s license to pass through Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints at airports.

The act is meant to ensure that a person presenting an ID is in fact who that person says they are, according to Justine Whelan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security.  “The act prevents the production of fake IDs and ensures that all identification that is used has certain features which prevent tampering or are difficult to replicate,” Ms. Whelan said. These features include anti-counterfeit technology, such as the holograms on some state licenses. Federally issued documents, such as a passport, also fall into the difficult-to-replicate category.

Why should we care?

If you don’t have the right kind of ID, you risk being able to board a commercial airline flight or enter a federal building.  So, if this matters to you, you’d better care.

Iowa is considered in compliance and has been issuing REAL ID licenses since 2013.  Some of you may already have one.  For those that don’t yet, we can still use our current driver’s license until October 1, 2020.  But at that point, we’ll need a license certified as a REAL ID (or a passport, which is also acceptable) in order to fly domestically.

I encourage you to read more about this by using the links above and below.  And pay attention to your state information, as the process for obtaining a REAL ID could be different in each state.  If your state isn’t compliant or hasn’t been granted an extension, you are probably already quite aware of this.

What I had to do

The Iowa site for REAL ID provides a list of the various forms of identification you have to present in order to have your driver’s license certified as a REAL ID when you renew.  I was able to select the documents I needed from a list and then it allowed me to print a tailored checklist.  This site also shows the status of each state.

I needed my passport (because it’s active), an original social security card, my voter’s registration card, and my current driver’s license.  I was prepared to provide other documents – car registration, name change – but I wasn’t asked for those.  Depending on what you have (or don’t have), you might need different documents than what I did.

Monday, I decided to renew my license in Dallas County because the county seat is in Adel, a small town just west of us.  (And we live in Dallas county anyway.)  What a great decision.  (Thanks, Tim!!).  I was in and out in about 10 minutes!!!

My new license

Once I get my permanent license (I have a paper copy that’s good for 30 days), the REAL ID will be noted by a yellow star in the upper right corner.  And then I will be good to go!!

Iowa Driver License with REAL ID

Once you’ve established your license as a REAL ID, you don’t have to do it again.  So, if you think you’ll need one, get it done the next time you have to renew your license.  Don’t let the process intimidate you and don’t wait until it’s too late!!!


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