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What’s the deal with REAL ID?

Jan. 8, 2018Minnesota REAL ID graphic

Standard driver’s licenses…enhanced driver’s licenses…REAL ID? It’s enough to make a person’s head spin. How are you supposed to know which one you should have and when and where you can get it? Worry no more. We’ve put together a handy guide that should make things a lot clearer.

The first thing you should know is that REAL IDs are not available in Minnesota yet. The Minnesota legislature passed a law that requires REAL IDs to be available in Minnesota by Oct. 2018, and Driver and Vehicle Services is working toward that deadline now. In the meantime, Minnesota has an extension that allows federal agencies to accept standard driver’s licenses and identification cards for domestic air travel and access to federal facilities.

Deciding which license or ID card you need depends on what you plan to do with it. If you’re not planning on traveling by air within the US or visiting a federal facility (like a military base or nuclear power plant) after Oct. 10, 2018, but you want to drive, all you need is a driver’s license. They also work for general identification purposes.

An enhanced identification card or driver’s license, on the other hand, can be used for US air travel and federal facility access even after the October 10 deadline. In addition to serving as a driver’s license or ID card, they allow re-entry into the United States via land and sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean. That’s why it can only be issued to American citizens.

A REAL ID-compliant identification card or driver’s license, when it becomes available, can be used for domestic air travel and federal facility access, but not for U.S. border crossings (although it can be issued to both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens). And like both of its counterparts, it can be used for lawful driving privileges and general identification.

Minnesotans can use standard and enhanced licenses to board domestic flights until the current extension expires on Oct. 10, 2018. 

REAL ID identification cards and driver’s licenses will cost the same as regular identification cards and driver’s licenses – $19.25 for the ID and $25.25 for the driver’s license.

You can read more about your options for driver’s licenses and identification cards on our website – and don’t forget to check out our frequently asked questions about REAL ID.