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Coming soon to Minnesota: REAL ID

May 25, 2017

Sample Minnesota driver's license
Photo: According to a new law passed last week, Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services will begin issuing REAL IDs in October of 2018. Here’s what they’ll look like.​

You’ve seen it in the news. You’ve heard about Minnesota lawmakers discussing it. And now there’s an actual Minnesota law on the books that allows Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) to meet the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act. Gov. Dayton signed it into law last week.

Why is this important to average Minnesotan? Barring an extension, the federal government will require a REAL ID in order to board a domestic commercial flight as of January 22, 2018. And without a REAL ID, you’ll still need another piece of ID in addition to your state driver’s license to visit federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and military bases.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 as part of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. It sets standards for identification and keeps federal agencies from accepting state-issued IDs that don’t meet those standards.

The Minnesota law requires DVS to begin issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and IDs by October 2018, and Governor Dayton has already requested an extension from the federal government so that current Minnesota licenses and IDs will be accepted at federal facilities and for boarding domestic commercial flights after January 2018.

In the meantime, DVS will begin the work of meeting the requirements of the REAL ID Act, which involves working with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure compliance and making changes to the DVS computer system.

And what does all this mean for you? First, you can still use your Minnesota license or ID to get on a domestic commercial flight today.  If you’re visiting a federal facility, you will need your Minnesota license or ID plus an alternative form of ID to get into a federal facility (contact the facility before you go to make sure you bring the right forms of ID). Second, you don’t have to get a new license until yours expires.

When you do apply for your REAL ID, you’ll need different documents than when applying for a standard driver’s license. The federal requirements for a REAL ID include proof of identity, Social Security Number, and residence address in Minnesota. But don’t worry, we’ll provide more information in the coming months.

Until then, you may want to learn more about the REAL ID Act on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website.