Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

Three Tips for REAL ID

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.

Leave a Reply

  • Peggy Ryden November 6, 2019, 9:45 pm

    Passport Panic: just checked dates of our passports and put the expiration on the electronic calendar. Thank you for the inspiration and information on the new ID. even though our DL don’t expire for a couple of years we’ll get new ones with Real ID for US flights. Thanks again!

    • Anonymous November 10, 2019, 11:20 pm

      Glad it was helpful, Peggy. Re the passport expiration: Many countries require that you have at least 6 months of validity remaining on your passport when you arrive in the country; you would want to keep that in mind as you decide how far in advance of the passport expiration you would like to renew. If you have a trip planned during the last year of your passport’s validity, you may need to renew before the trip begins to make sure that you have at least six months remaining when you arrive at your international destination.


  • Laura F. Lindell November 7, 2019, 12:24 am

    I’m a daughter of Becketwood residents, with one additional caution as you prep for applying.When I applied for my real ID, I brought along a paper utility bill as proof of residence.This was accepted at the office and all seemed routine until a few weeks later when I received a letter saying my application had been rejected. The reason given was that since my husband’s name was listed along with mine on the utility bill, I was additionally supposed to provide a marriage license. This did not make sense to me! I returned to the licensing office and argued that marital status should not stop me from “proving” my legal residence (I am co-owner of our house, which is in the county courthouse records, so it seems to me there shouldn’t be any ambiguity?) The staff looked up the Real ID procedures and said yes, that a copy of my marriage license WAS required by the rules they were given, and they had made a mistake in originally accepting my utiity bill. If the ultility bill had been only in my name without my husband’s there also, it would have sufficed. Unfortunately I could not find a bill that had the physical address listed (many of my bills such as the cell phone bill you used do not include my physical address in the masthead of their statements) AND only my name on it. I still think this is very intrusive – requiring a marriage license feels like just a way for the national government to have even MORE of my personal data and documents compiled into one package. The irony is that my spouse and I had made a consciouse choice to put our utility bills in both our names to help with credit ratings for both of us….

    • Anonymous November 10, 2019, 11:32 pm

      Laura — The DMV info says that utility bills will not be accepted if two unrelated persons are listed on the bill. I suppose that the marriage license shows proof of the relationship. My husband and I had split the utility bills when we moved to Minnesota and bought a house so some were in his name and some in mine. At this point, all we have left is the electric bill, which has always been in his name. (No more gas, phone or water bills in our name at Becketwood.) Bank statements and credit card statements (issued no more than 90 days before the application date) are also acceptable proofs of residency. We had a few of those that could have worked for me. Luckily my cell phone statement does have my current address.

      Since passports are issued without regard to residency (only proof of identity and citizenship is required), it is interesting that the REAL ID places such emphasis on showing residency.

      Good luck with getting your license renewed.