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Driver and Vehicle Services

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

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 driver's licenses and ID cards for official purposes from states that do not meet minimum security standards.

Federal enforcement of REAL ID begins on May 7, 2025.

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

​Minnesotans can use their standard driver's license or identification cards for federal purposes until May 7, 2025. 

Beginning May 7, 2025, a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or identification card or another federally approved form of identification will be required to board a domestic flight or enter a federal facility. These include:

  • Minnesota enhanced driver's license or identification card
  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  •  U.S. Department of defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents

Visit the TSA's website for a complete list of acceptable documents.

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 enhanced 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 enhanced driver's license or ID card. 

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

​Do I need to submit my REAL ID application by May 7, 2025?

May 7, 2025​, is the federal full enforcement deadline, meaning you will need a REAL ID, enhanced driver's license or ID card, passport or passport card, or another accep​​​table form of identification to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities.

Minnesotans can apply for their REAL ID now or after May 7, 2025. If you don't need a REAL ID right away, you do not need to ​apply for one by May 7, 2025.

For example, if your license doesn't expire until 2026​, and you plan to use your passport as your federally-approved for​m of identification starting May 7, 2025, you may choose to wait to apply for a REAL ID when your license expires.

If you have travel plans after May 7, 2025, and do not have a passport or another acceptable form of identification, you should apply for your REAL ID or enhanced driver's license now.

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

Use a standard driver's license or ID card to:

  • Lawfully drive or show identification.
  • Board domestic flights before May 7, 2025.

Use a REAL ID driver's license or ID card to:

  • Lawfully drive or show identification.
  • Board domestic flights (REAL ID compliant form of identification is required for U.S. travelers 18 and over starting May 7, 2025.)
  • Visit military bases.
  • Access certain federal facilities, like nuclear power plants.

Use an enhanced driver's license or ID card to:

  • Lawfully drive or show identification. .
  • Comply with REAL ID requirements when boarding domestic flights and accessing certain federal buildings.
  • Re-enter the United States at its land borders or seaports when returning from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean.

Not sure if you need a REAL ID?
Use the online Help Me Choose tool at drive.mn.gov to select the best license or ID type for your needs.

What if I already have a Minnesota enhanced driver's license or ID card (EDL/EID)?

Minnesotans who already have an EDL or EID can continue to use it to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities even after May 7, 2025.

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?

The requirements are not the same. Enhanced driver's licenses and identification cards are:

  • Only issued to U.S. citizens.
  • Require additional documentation to obtain, such as proof of citizenship, and proof of photographic identity.
  • Require you to complete an interview questionnaire at the time of application.

An enhanced driver's license or identification card is REAL ID compliant and offers the additional benefit of travel by land or sea to Mexico, Canada and some Caribbean countries.

If I want to apply for a REAL ID or enhanced driver's license but do not have the correct documents, can I simply apply for a standard driver's license?

​​Yes. If you are at your local office and decide you want to apply for a standard driver's license instead of a REAL ID or enhanced driver's license, you may do so.

 If you already submitted an application for a REAL ID or enhanced driver's license, receive a letter in the mail stating more documentation is required and wish to change your application to a standard driver's license, you must return to your local office to apply for a standard driver's license. You will receive a refund for your previous application, with the exception of the filing fee and will pay the standard driver's license fees.

Can I apply for a Minnesota REAL ID by mail while out of state?

​No. All REAL ID applications must be submitted, along with required documents, in person at a local DVS exam station, deputy registrar office or driver's license agent office.

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 for federal identification. What does that mean?

A standard Minnesota driver’s license or identification card is marked "not for Federal Identification. 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 May 7, 2025​.

 A REAL ID is marked with a gold star. 

An enhanced driver's license or ID card is marked with “Enhanced Driver's License" or Enhanced Identification Card" and cards issued after Jan. 1, 2021, also have a gold star on them.


At which locations can I apply for a REAL ID?

REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards became available at most driver’s license office locations Oct. 1, 2018. Use the Find Office Locations search for a listing of offices near you. 

What are the requirements to obtain a REAL ID?

Applying for a REAL ID requires additional documentation mandated by federal law. You will need to provide:

  • 1 document to verify identity, date of birth and citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate.
  • 1 document proving your Social Security number, such as a social security card.
  • 2 different documents proving Minnesota residency, like a valid driver's license and credit card statement.​

Complete List of Documents Required

If I already have a REAL ID, and move, do I need to re-apply for a new REAL ID and pay another fee since my address has changed?

If you have a REAL ID and move to a new Minn​esota address, you will need to reapply for a duplicate REAL ID and:

If your name has changed as well, you will need to provide additional identity documents that show the change of name. ​. 


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 information stored on the magnetic strip of a standard and REAL ID is the same. It is the data shown on the front of the card.

I submitted an application before Oct. 1, 2018. Did I get a REAL ID?

No. REAL IDs were not available before Oct. 1, 2018. 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.