A standard Minnesota driver's license will currently get you through the security checkpoint at the airport, but in less than nine months, it won't.

On Oct. 1, every U.S. citizen over 18 will need a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or another form of acceptable ID for federal purposes, like boarding domestic flights or entering federal facilities.

With the deadline approaching, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DPS-DVS) is “strongly encouraging” state residents to apply for REAL ID now. According to a recent statement from the department, about 11% of driver's license and ID card holders in Minnesota have REAL IDs—that figure is up 2% from November.

Emma Corrie, DPS-DVS director, called that “good progress,” but noted that there are many more Minnesotans who will need a REAL ID and do not yet have one.

“Don't wait,” she said. “If you want a REAL ID to fly later this year, apply for one now, and make sure you have everything you need before you visit an office.”

Minnesotans currently have three options when obtaining or renewing a driver's license: the standard license, REAL ID, or enhanced driver's license. The differences can get confusing, so below is a guide on determining which is right for you.

What is a REAL ID?

A REAL ID complies with the standards set by the REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005. Born out of a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, the act establishes minimum security standards for how states issue driver's licenses and ID cards. A standard Minnesota driver's license is not compliant, but both REAL IDs and enhanced driver's licenses/ID cards are.

What's the difference between a REAL ID and an enhanced driver's license?

Unlike REAL IDs, enhanced licenses are acceptable border crossing documents, meaning they can be used to travel to Mexico, Canada and some Caribbean countries by sea or land, but not on flights. They require additional documentation, such as proof of citizenship, proof of photographic identity and an interview questionnaire at the time of application. Neither a REAL ID or enhanced license can be used for international travel. Enhanced licenses cost $15 more than a REAL ID, which is the same as a standard driver's license.

Do I need a REAL ID if I already have a passport?

No. A valid U.S. passport or passport card can be used to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities, even after Oct. 1.

What else qualifies as acceptable identification?

The Department of Homeland Security has designated a number of acceptable forms of ID, including a valid U.S. passport or passport card, a trusted traveler card (e.g., Global Entry), a border crossing card, and a tribal-issued photo ID. A complete list can be found at tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification

What documents do I need when applying for a REAL ID?

Applicants must provide the following:

• One document proving identity, date of birth and legal presence in the United States, such as a passport or birth certificate

• One document proving a Social Security number

• Two different documents proving current residency in Minnesota, such as an unexpired driver's license or ID card, a canceled check or a bank statement

Laminated documents and digital documents shown on a phone or electronic device will not be accepted.

How long will it take?

As of Jan. 9, DVS is currently processing:

• Standard license and ID card applications from Dec. 2

• Enhanced driver's license and ID card applications from Nov. 12

• REAL-ID license and ID card applications from Nov. 15


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