In the latest of several delays, the Department of Homeland Security announced that Americans will have until May 7, 2025, to obtain their Real ID driver’s license or identification cards.
After that, Americans looking to fly a federally regulated domestic flight or access certain federal buildings will be required to use a REAL ID, enhanced ID, passport, or military ID, to comply with the REAL ID Act. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is the REAL ID Act?
After eighteen of the nineteen hijackers from the 9/11 terrorist attacks obtained state IDs (many fraudulently), Congress passed the Real ID Act to increase the security of licenses.
Under The Act, applicants must provide proof of identity and legal U.S. residency to obtain identification. The federal government rolled out The Act in phases to ensure individual states had the necessary resources to enforce the new law.
However, initially geared for 2008 implementation, it was delayed repeatedly because many state governments refused to comply. As a result, it was 2012 before states adhered to The Act and 2014 before federal facilities and nuclear power plants began enforcement of the regulation.
Why Are Some State Governments and Americans Opposed to the REAL ID Act?
Many believe that the REAL ID Act is a threat to privacy and a violation of our civic rights. First, it consolidates Americans’ personal information, including birthdays and Social Security numbers, into an interconnected database accessible to the federal government and all 55 states and U.S. territories.
Some believe that a mega-national database is a temptation and goldmine for successful identity thieves while allowing the government to spy on citizens without a lawful warrant.
Second, the REAL ID Act regulates all American driver’s licenses and ID cards to have an unencrypted machine-readable zone, making your personal information skimmable by anyone with bad intentions and a barcode reader.
Nonetheless, many believe the security measures outweigh the risks considering the events of September 11, 2001.
Is Getting a REAL ID Mandatory?
While no state currently requires you to get a REAL ID-compliant card, it’s necessary if you plan to fly on commercial flights or access certain federal facilities.
How Do I Get a REAL ID?
You must bring specific documentation to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office for a REAL ID, including proof of identity (birth certificates or passports), residency, and Social Security card.
After you’ve collected the necessary documents, make an appointment with your local DMV to apply for a REAL ID. Every state has individual requirements, so visit your local DMV website for relevant information.
They mark the REAL ID cards with a star. You will need to show an alternative form of identification, such as a passport if you do not obtain a REAL ID-compliant card.
The REAL ID Act regulates driver’s licenses and ID card standards to be tamper-resistant with increased security. The new regulations also require states to verify the identity of anyone applying for driver’s licenses and ID cards.
Additionally, verification of each applicant’s Social Security number is mandated, and DMVs must keep records of every driver’s license and ID card. The REAL ID Act has stirred controversy among people, arguing it violates privacy rights.
Regardless, proponents of the law insist it’s necessary to ensure safety and security for our nation and its people.
More Articles From Wander With Alex
- Fear of Flying? You’re Not Alone. Here’s What Experts Are Saying.
- Travelers Prefer Authentic, Local Experiences Over Tourist Attractions
Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing, a website that provides information about addiction, recovery, mental wellness, spirituality, and resources to help people succeed in rebuilding their lives. Elizabeth has education and experience with addiction, healing, and spiritual studies. She is passionate about learning, teaching, and loving her neighbor.