REAL ID: The countdown continues

Sept. 30, 2019

An enlarged Minnesota REAL ID driver's license displayed at MSP airport

It’s hard to believe, but Oct. 1, 2020, is one short year away. That means Minnesotans have just one year until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s full REAL ID enforcement date.

That’s a fancy way of saying that, as of Oct. 1, 2020, a standard Minnesota driver’s license or ID will no longer get you on a domestic U.S. flight or into a federal facility. Instead, you’ll need a REAL ID, passport, or enhanced driver’s license or ID (you can find the full list here).

Considering that as of now, less than 10 percent of all Minnesota driver’s license and ID-card holders have REAL IDs, there’s work to be done. We want to make sure everyone who needs a REAL ID has one by the deadline.

So how do you get a REAL ID? It requires a bit more documentation than a standard driver’s license or ID, so make sure you arrive at your driver’s license office prepared. An easy way to do that is to use the online pre-application tool. That will help you provide a lot of the necessary information from the comfort of your home.

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. Note that digital documents (shown on your phone, for example) won’t be accepted, so make sure you bring original paper documents with you, and be sure they aren’t laminated. You’ll need:

  • 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.

But how long can you expect it to take to get your REAL ID? DVS has a web page that can tell you the current processing times for licenses and ID cards. The page is updated weekly, but as of Sept. 26, DVS is processing REAL ID applications from Aug. 15.

So don’t let that Oct. 1, 2020, deadline take you by surprise. Gather your documents, get online, and start your application online for a REAL ID today. You’ll appreciate having it checked off your to-do list when the time comes.