by Angela Bohmann, Becketwood Member
As you may have heard, effective October 1, 2020, a standard Minnesota driver’s license will not be sufficient identification to board a domestic flight in the US. A passport will be sufficient (and is necessary for international flights), but if you want to use your driver’s license as your ID for flying, you will need to upgrade to a REAL ID. That requires proof of identity, date of birth, social security number and current residence. Further information about required documentation is here.
My birthday is in October so sometime in September I received the postcard reminding me that it was time to renew my driver’s license. Husband Jon’s birthday was in late June and he had already renewed his license as a REAL ID, rather than as a standard license so we had some experience with the process. I had decided that I too would get a REAL ID.
I have a passport and I even have my original Social Security card (original; not a photocopy and not laminated, per the instructions). So I needed two documents to show current residency. One document can be a valid unexpired Minnesota driver’s license showing my current address, which I had. Documents such as my Becketwood lease or our car title were not issued within the last 12 months, so I could not use them as proof of residency. So I found a credit card statement dated within the last 90 days. I then filled out the application on line.
TIP 1: Make an appointment. You can make an appointment online with the Hennepin County Service Centers. When I looked online in early October, the first available appointment at the Midtown Exchange Service Center (the one closest to Becketwood) was for October 8, my birthday. For the downtown Government Center Service Center, October 11 was the earliest appointment. I did not want to spend my birthday with the government bureaucracy so I picked a time on October 9.
As it turned out, I probably would have been fine without an appointment because the line was not very long. However, when Jon went for his appointment, the line was long and he would have waited quite a while had he not made an appointment. We had a friend who went without an appointment and gave up because of the long wait. He came back with an appointment and the process went smoothly.
Although I waited in line to get a service number from the receptionist, I think I may have been able to jump to the front of the line because I had an appointment. So if the initial line seems long, you should ask whether there is a special procedure for persons with appointments.
TIP 2: Take extra proof of residency in case there is a problem with one of your documents. Note that your driver’s license expires on your birthday (no grace period) so it cannot be used as one of your two documents proving residency if you request the REAL ID after your birthday in the year the license expires. And that was my problem. I was renewing my license the day after my birthday so the license was technically no longer valid. The clerk assisting me checked with his supervisor, but he was unable to accept the license. However, he did allow me to pull up a cell phone bill on my iPhone (luckily I remembered the password to the account), which he then emailed to his computer and printed for the second document to prove residency. So I should be good to fly with my new REAL ID license by October 1, 2020.
I expect the Service Centers will get busier and busier as the October 1, 2020, deadline approaches. And the clerk told me that it might take 4 to 6 weeks for my new ID to arrive. So if you want a REAL ID –
TIP 3: Apply now, well before the deadline.