Renewing your license? Get your REAL ID now!

Aug. 8, 2019

REAL ID compliant Minnesota driver's license

You know that thing where you have a deadline, but it’s a long way off and you think, “I’ve got plenty of time,” and the next thing you know the deadline is right on top of you? Don’t let that happen with REAL ID. Sure, the deadline isn’t until Oct. 1, 2020, but after that you’ll need a REAL ID (or an enhanced driver’s license or ID, or a passport) to board a domestic flight or get into a federal facility. So why not get your REAL ID now?

If you’re worried it’ll be cost prohibitive, consider that a REAL ID costs the same as a standard driver’s license or ID card. If you want to apply for a REAL ID before your license expires, there are additional fees, but it also adds four years onto your original expiration date – so it will be valid for a longer period of time. The early renewal option is only for those who renewed their Minnesota driver’s license before REAL IDs were available, Oct. 1, 2018. The additional fees for renewing early are:

  • $2 for a renewal up to 17 months before expiration.
  • $4 for a renewal 18-29 months before expiration.
  • $6 for a renewal more than 29 months before expiration.

Getting a REAL ID does involve more documentation than a standard driver’s license. You can get a complete list on the Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) website, but in brief, here’s what you’ll need to bring with you:

  • One document proving your identity, date of birth, and legal presence in the U.S.
  • One document proving your social security number.
  • Two different documents proving your current residency in Minnesota.

A couple of notes about these documents: They won’t accept digital versions shown on your phone or other device. Also, if you’re concerned about having the right documents, you can preapply online. That will save you some time once you get to DVS, as well.

Speaking of time, DVS also has a web page that can tell you the current processing times for licenses and ID cards. The page is updated weekly so you can get a sense of how long yours might take. For example, as of August 2, DVS is processing REAL ID applications from July 12, and has issued well over 110,000 REAL ID-compliant licenses and ID cards since October 1, 2018.

It’s true that Oct. 1, 2020 is over a year away. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to get your REAL ID. Take some time now to gather your documents and apply. Once the deadline rolls around, you’ll be glad you did.