REAL ID: What You Need To Know
Thanks to the 2005 Federal Real ID Act, you’ll probably want a Real ID if you plan to fly or enter federal facilities like courthouses and military bases. The Act, which was passed as a response to the September 11th terrorist attack, suggests that documents currently required to get a driver’s license aren’t enough to prove identity. The Real ID is basically a modified driver’s license; one that takes a few more identifying documents to get. It will look just like your old North Carolina license, only with a gold star in the corner.
What the Real ID Act doesn’t do is require you to have one. But starting October 1st, 2020 TSA guidelines will require you to present either a Real ID or a passport in order to board a plane if you’re 18 or older. A regular driver’s license isn’t going to cut it. Some military bases are already requiring you to either present a Real ID or two pieces of identification. And if you plan to get one, the NCDMV is recommending that you do it sooner rather than later. If everybody holds off until just before October 1st, 2020 the wait times are likely to be outrageous.
You can get your Real ID at your local NCDMV. The prices are the same as they are for driver’s licenses. If it’s time to renew your license anyway, or you’re getting a NC driver’s license for the first time, it will cost $40. If your renewal isn’t coming up anytime soon and you just want to upgrade to a Real ID it will cost $13, the same as a duplicate license.
The requirements for a Real ID aren’t actually all that different from those you needed in order to get a driver’s license. You’ll need to bring three types of original documents to the DMV with you. The first one needs to show your name and date of birth. That can be a certified birth certificate or passport. If the name on those documents is different than your current name because of a marriage, divorce, etc. you’ll also need to bring something that proves your name has changed such as a certified marriage license. Secondly, you’ll need something with your full name and social security number; like your social security card, 1099 tax form, pay stubs, or a W-2. And finally, you will need two different documents that prove your North Carolina residency. Options include your current driver’s license (provided that it isn’t expired), voter precinct card, vehicle registration, utility bills, a DD214, school records, or insurance policy. And if you’re not a U.S. citizen, you’ll also need to bring documents to prove you are lawfully residing in this country. These are some examples of the documents you could bring, but not an exhaustive list, so if you’re having trouble acquiring any of these you should check out the full list at: www.ncdot.gov/dmv/license-id/nc-real-id/Pages/requirements.aspx.
All of your documents will be scanned, returned to you, and filed electronically.
All that really amounts to is bringing one more piece of paper to the DMV than you would to get a license (two documents proving residency instead of one). And remember, if you make your appointment to get your Real ID soon, the hassle should be minimal. But you can always simply opt out and stick to your old photo ID. Just remember to bring your passport the next time you fly. ♦
Katrina lives with her husband and their fearsome toddler. When she’s not writing, she prepares elaborate meals, cheats at video games, and plays the guitar (badly).