ST. PAUL — Minnesotans should be able to use their standard driver’s license or identification cards for domestic air travel or access to federal facilities until 2020 since the state is on-track to issue REAL ID-compliant cards later this year.
The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) informed the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division (DPS-DVS) during a quarterly REAL ID compliance check-in that the state was making the necessary progress to comply with the federal regulations.
Governor Dayton and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met in January in Washington, DC, to discuss Minnesota’s progress toward federal REAL ID compliance and the next extension request cycle. Minnesota currently has an extension for REAL ID enforcement until October 10, 2018. While DHS is currently not accepting state applications at this time, DHS informed DPS-DVS the state may request an extension from enforcement later this year, to bridge the gap between when Minnesota begins issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and ID cards and when DHS approves the state’s compliance certification. Minnesota has been working closely with DHS to achieve full compliance with all REAL ID requirements by this coming October. This means that Minnesotans will be able to use their current licenses and ID cards for federal purposes until October 1, 2020.
REAL IDs available in October
The Minnesota legislature passed a law that directs the DPS-DVS to make REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards available by Oct. 1, 2018. Work to meet that deadline continues, even though the federal government won’t require driver’s licenses and IDs to be REAL ID-compliant until two years later on Oct. 1, 2020.
DPS-DVS and Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) contracted with FAST Enterprises to develop a new driver services system that will produce REAL IDs.
Making progress on the new driver’s license system
FAST Enterprises reports that the driver services project is on schedule.
- The FAST project team has completed several system demonstrations to driver’s license agents, DVS staff and deputy registrars around the state. There will be an additional webinar held for any business partners who were unable to attend the demonstration in their region.
- The training team, consisting of DPS trainers and FAST training staff, began building the curriculum and course content earlier this month. The team has selected most of the regional sites for the classroom training. Driver’s license agents and deputy registrars will be able to schedule their classroom training starting mid-May. Computer-based training will start June 1, followed by classroom training in late July or early August.
- The DPS-DVS testing team has been created and will begin business testing at the end of April. This testing includes user functionality and critical interface testing with partners including the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).
What Minnesotans need to know
- Minnesotans do not need to take any action at this time to comply with the federal REAL ID law.
- Minnesotans will be able to apply for the optional REAL ID-compliant cards beginning October 1, 2018, but they will not be needed for federal purposes until October 1, 2020. That means that Minnesotans will have two years to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card.
- Minnesotans should renew their driver’s licenses or identification cards as they normally would. The renewed license will be valid for four years, barring a suspension or revocation.
- If a Minnesotan chooses to apply for a REAL ID before their standard license expires, an early renewal fee would be charged and an additional four years would be added to the expiration date. The early renewal fee, set in Minnesota law, is based on how many months the REAL ID is obtained before a person’s driver’s license or ID card expires.
- $2 for a renewal 17 months before expiration.
- $4 for a renewal 18-29 months before expiration.
- $6 for a renewal more than 29 months before expiration.
Minnesotans will have options: REAL ID, Enhanced Driver’s License and Standard Driver’s License.
Minnesotans can continue to apply for a standard or enhanced driver’s license or ID card now and will have the option of applying for a REAL ID-compliant card in October. Determining which type of license or ID card works best depends on what the card is needed for.
- Minnesota Standard Driver’s License or ID Card
Now: These can be used as a valid form of identification and for lawful driving privileges. These cards are also an acceptable form of ID for domestic air travel and to access federal facilities. Beginning October 1, 2020: While these cards will continue to be a valid form of identification, they will not be accepted for domestic air travel or access to federal facilities. Another form of identification, such as a valid passport or Enhanced Driver’s License, will be required for air travel or access to federal facilities.
- Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) or Enhanced ID Card (EID)
Now and beginning October 1, 2020: In addition to being a valid form of identification and indicating lawful driving privileges, EDLs and EIDs can be used as a border crossing document to re-enter the U.S. by land and sea from Canada, Mexico, and some countries in the Caribbean. They can also be used for domestic air travel and to access federal facilities, and are only issued to U.S. citizens. (Learn more on the DPS-DVS website.)
- REAL ID-Compliant Driver’s License or ID Card
Beginning October 1, 2020: When they become available in Minnesota this year, REAL ID-compliant cards will be an accepted form of identification for domestic air travel and to access federal facilities. These cards can be used as a valid form of identification and for lawful driving privileges. These cards cannot be used as border crossing documents.
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.
Federal enforcement and identification requirements
- For more information on acceptable forms of identification for boarding aircraft, please see TSA’s website.
- Information from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
How to stay updated
- Find Minnesota REAL ID information and resources at the state’s website.
- The DPS-DVS Facebook page will have information that can easily be shared.
- A recent DPS Blog post has information to consider when deciding which license or ID card you need.
How to get help
- For driver services questions (licenses, ID cards, driver compliance and exams) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 email@example.com and include your full name, date of birth, and license plate or VIN number with your question.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About Driver and Vehicle Services
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division (DVS) is responsible for driver testing, driver licensing and maintenance of driver records; driver evaluation and compliance; motor vehicle title and registration; commercial vehicle registration; motor vehicle dealer licensing and regulation; and enforcement of no-fault insurance requirements.
The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) is a multi-year project sponsored by the Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services Division (DVS). It replaces the division’s 30-year-old information technology system with one that will meet the needs and expectations of the division’s customers, employees and business partners.
Driver and Vehicle Services Highlights
- DVS 2017:
- More than 1.6 million driver’s license and ID cards issued
- More than 1.6 million titles issued
- More than 5.4 million vehicles registered
- DVS’ Public Information Center handled more than 1.2 million phone calls and 110,000 email correspondences.
- Web-based services include driver’s license status check, registration renewal (tabs), and test scheduling.