REAL ID Questions Answered

    The REAL ID Act was passed way back in 2005, as a response to the horrendous events that took place on the 11th of September 2001. Congress enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government should set some minimum standards for identification that states should adhere to, specifically when issuing driving licences and ID cards that the federal government needs to accept as legitimate ID.

    So why are we talking about this now? Well, in October last year the last phase of implementation of the Act happened, and as of the 1st of October, all US citizens flying domestically have had to be able to produce a REAL ID-compliant identification document in order to travel. 

    There are a few things that are useful to know about REAL ID, and not everyone is completely up to speed. So if you are planning on flying to NY for a cruise later in the year, or heading down to Florida for some winter sunshine, keep reading to have all your REAL ID questions answered.

    What is REAL ID?

    The REAL ID Act sets a number of federal standards that state-issued ID like driving licenses have to adhere to if they are used in certain contexts and to be accepted as legitimate ID by the federal government. This essentially means that in order to board a domestic flight or gain access to a federal building, the ID you show needs to meet REAL ID standards.

    I have a passport, do I need REAL ID?

    A passport already meets REAL ID standards, so there is no pressing need to get a specific REAL ID if you already have a passport. However, when your driving license or ID card is up for renewal it will probably be worth getting a new one that is REAL ID-compliant so that you don’t have to take your passport with you everywhere you go!

    Do I need a Real ID to drive?

    REAL ID is only mandatory for certain things run by the federal government. This means that your current driving license is still totally valid for driving, even if it isn’t a REAL ID! You also don’t need REAL ID if you want to vote, apply for benefits, go to a hospital, serve on a jury, or enter a post office. 

    How much does Real ID cost?

    Getting a new REAL ID will cost the grand total of $30, plus a renewal fee for your current license or ID. Your REAL ID will last for four years, plus however long you currently have left on your ID or license. This means that you don’t end up wasting the time you’ve paid for on your existing license, so you don’t have to worry about losing out financially if you want to upgrade to a REAL ID before your current license runs out. Once you’ve paid the initial fee, you won’t need to pay anything else beyond the standard renewal fees you currently pay for your existing ID.

    What do I need to get a Real ID?

    In order to apply for your REAL ID, you will need to present originals or certified copies of a few important documents. Most importantly, you need to show proof of identity, like a birth certificate or a valid passport. You’ll also need your social security card, proof of address, and evidence of any times you have changed your name (legally) in the past.

    REAL ID doesn’t need to be scary or concerning and is nowhere near as complicated a process as it might initially seem. With our guide above, you won’t have any problems and can plan your next domestic trip with peace of mind!


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