REAL ID and license renewal: There's still time

Oct. 1, 2020

Minnesota REAL ID driver's license

We can all agree that 2020 has been a challenging year for various reasons. So it’s possible you haven’t had time (or haven’t been able) to visit a deputy registrar or driver’s license agent office and renew your driver’s license, let alone apply for your REAL ID.

Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security understands that. You may recall that the deadline for REAL ID was supposed to be Oct. 1, 2020; but then COVID-19 happened, offices temporarily closed and federal officials recognized people may not be able to apply in person for a REAL ID. The new, extended deadline is now Oct. 1, 2021 – one year from today.

A year from now, you won’t be able to use your standard driver’s license to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities. Instead, you’ll need a REAL ID, enhanced driver’s license or ID card, or a passport (click here to find other forms of identification you can use for federal purposes).

If your license or ID card expires during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency or the month after it ends, you have more time to renew.  Gov. Walz signed two bills into law that extend the expiration dates. That means that if your license or ID card expires between March 13 and Nov. 30, you now have until Dec. 31 to renew it. If this applies to you, it’s important to note that you won’t get a new card showing the new expiration date, but your record will reflect it.

You also have the option to renew your standard driver’s license or ID card online as long as you don’t need to change your name, address, license number or signature. But because REAL ID applications require additional documents, they need to be done in person—but you can use the online pre-application tool to save time in the office and get a list of exactly which documents you’ll need to complete the application in person.

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.
    • If the name on your identity document is not the same as your current name, you need to provide a name change document.
  • One document proving your social security number.
    • You need to update any name changes with the Social Security Administration prior to applying for a REAL ID.
  • Two different documents proving your current residency in Minnesota.

In what has felt like a year of chaos and confusion, you can count on the fact that you have more time to get your REAL ID or renew your standard one. It’s one less thing to worry about.