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REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions

Quick Links to Top Questions Minnesotans are asking:




What is REAL ID?

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards. The Act refers to federal anti-terrorism laws and regulations that control access to the following:

  • Federally regulated commercial aircraft.
  • Federal facilities requiring identification to enter, such as military bases or nuclear power facilities.

The Act prohibits federal agencies like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from accepting cards for official purposes from states that do not meet minimum security standards.




Do I need a REAL ID to travel on domestic flights?

Minnesotans will be able to use their standard driver's license or identification cards for federal purposes until Oct. 1, 2020. After that date, a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card or another acceptable form of identification will be required to board a domestic flight or enter a federal facility. Those include:

  • Enhanced driver's license or ID card (EDL/EID).
  • Valid U.S. passport book or card.
  • Other acceptable forms of identification for commercial flights are listed on the TSA's website.

Minnesota began issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses on Oct. 1, 2018.




Will minors need to have a REAL ID to fly domestically?

The TSA does not require children under age 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. The companion will need acceptable identification.




Do I need a REAL ID to visit a federal facility?

When planning a visit to a federal facility, visitors should contact the facility to determine what identification will be accepted.




Do I need to get a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or ID card?

No. A REAL ID-compliant card is optional and is not needed for the following:

  • Being licensed to drive.
  • Voting or registering to vote.
  • Entering federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification.
  • Applying or receiving federal benefits.
  • Accessing health or life-preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement or constitutionally-protected activities (including a defendant's access to court proceedings).
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations.



How do I decide if I should apply for a REAL ID?

Determining which type of license or ID card works best depends on what a person needs to use the card for. If a driver's license is needed for federal use, such as boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, accessing federal facilities or entering nuclear power plants, a REAL ID-compliant card or enhanced driver's license or ID card would be required. Someone who needs a driver's license only for identification purposes and lawful driving privileges does not need a REAL ID or EDL.

Review the information on the license/ID options page for more direction.




What's the difference between a REAL ID, standard driver’s license and enhanced driver’s license?

Minnesota offers three different ID options: a standard driver’s license, a REAL ID and an enhanced ID. All three will be acceptable for driving purposes, but after Oct. 1, 2020, you will need a REAL ID, an enhanced ID or a passport to board a domestic flight or enter a federal facility. Enhanced IDs can also be used for U.S. border crossings by land or by sea.




What if I already have a Minnesota enhanced driver's license or ID card?

Minnesotans who already have an EDL or EID can continue to use it to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities even after Oct. 1, 2018.

EDLs and EIDs are federally-approved border crossing documents under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Minnesota residents are able to apply for an EDL or EID now. For more information visit the EDL/EID web page.




Are the requirements the same for a REAL ID and an enhanced ID?

Enhanced IDs are only issued to U.S. citizens and require additional documentation that REAL IDs do not, such as proof of citizenship, proof of photographic identity and an interview questionnaire at the time of application. Please note that enhanced IDs are REAL ID compliant and offer the additional benefit of travel by land or sea to Mexico, Canada and some Caribbean countries.




Do I have to renew my driver's license or ID card early to get a REAL ID?

A REAL ID-compliant card is optional, so there's no need to renew early unless you choose to.




My new driver’s license arrived and it says it’s not a REAL ID. Did I get a fake license?

The standard driver’s license you received is authentic and will continue to be acceptable for driving privileges, but it is not REAL ID-compliant and will not be acceptable for federal purposes such as boarding domestic flights after Oct. 1, 2020. A REAL ID is optional; a passport will also be accepted for federal purposes after that date.




What will a REAL ID cost?

A REAL ID will cost the same as a standard driver’s license ($25.25) or ID card ($19.25). Fees will apply for early renewals depending on how many months the REAL ID is obtained before a person’s driver’s license or ID card expires.

  • $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
Those who renew early will also have four years added to their original expiration date. So while an early renewal will cost a little more, Minnesotans who renew early will have their driver’s license or ID card valid for a longer period of time.

Complete Listing of Costs and Fess for Driver's Licenses and ID Cards



At which locations will I be able to apply for a REAL ID?

REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards will be available at most driver’s license office locations beginning Oct. 1, 2018. Use the Find Office Locations search for a listing of offices near you. Enter you address or zip code and select the Driver's License or ID Card - REAL ID option.




What are the requirements to obtain a REAL ID?

Applying for a REAL ID requires additional documentation mandated by federal law. To apply you’ll need to provide one document to verify identity, date of birth and citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate; one document proving your Social Security number, such as a social security card; and two documents proving residency, like a valid driver’s license and credit card statement. Complete List of Documents Required




If I apply for a REAL ID, is my personal information being entered into a national database?

No. The information you give to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division (DPS-DVS) is held securely and not shared or entered into a national database.




Will any additional information be stored on the magnetic strip of a REAL ID compared to a standard driver's license?

No. The data on the front of a standard driver's license and ID card is what's stored on the magnetic strip, and that will be the same for REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and ID cards.




I submitted an application before Oct. 1, 2018. Will I be getting a REAL ID?

No; REAL IDs were not available for application prior to Oct. 1. REAL IDs also require different documentation, mandated by federal law, than standard driver’s licenses or ID cards or enhanced driver’s licenses (EDL) or ID cards (EID).




How can Minnesotans get help?

  • For driver services questions (licenses, ID cards, driver compliance and exams) send an email to dvs.driverslicense@state.mn.us, and include your full name and date of birth with your question. You can also call 651-297-3298.

  • For vehicle services questions (ownership transfers, titles, liens and vehicle registration) visit the DVS website and submit your question using the vehicle services contact forms. You can also call 651-297-2126 or email dvs.motor.vehicles@state.mn.us and include your full name, date of birth and license plate or VIN number with your question.