What You Need To Know About Real ID In RI

Apr 18, 2018

Maybe you’ve already heard of something called Real ID. If not, you probably will soon. In the coming years, Real ID will affect how you board airplanes or walk into a federal building.

So what is it?

It’s a new designation for identification, like state IDs or driver’s licenses. Real ID is actually a federal law that sets national security standards for ID cards. The law was passed in 2005 as part of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission.

As of right now, no one with Rhode Island credentials meets this new standard. Starting this year, the State Department of Motor Vehicles  hope to begin issuing these new licenses in December.

“It’s a federal mandate that all states have to have certain security features in their credentials to make sure that we are identifying all people appropriately,” says Bud Craddock, head of the Rhode Island DMV.

Why are we hearing about this law now, 13 years after it was passed?

Right after the law was passed there was pushback from states and organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, which bristled at the idea of a national standardization for identification. So the law was delayed and delayed, but now there is an official hard deadline for states to be compliant: October 2020.

Who needs to get this new ID?

The short answer is everyone who plans on flying in the next few years. Starting in 2020, the new form of ID will be necessary to board domestic flights or walk into any federal buildings. Other forms of ID will still be accepted in some instances, such as a passport or birth certificate, but most people don’t want to carry those types of documents around.

October 2020 seems a ways off…

It is, but the RI Department of Motor Vehicles estimates it will take upwards of two years to get REAL IDs to all the people who want them before the deadline. They’re aiming to begin issuing REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards this coming December.

The DMV has been trying to reduce wait times, how will REAL ID affect that?

The DMV concedes that this major switchover could involve long lines and wait times.  DMV director, Bud Craddock, says the agency is expecting a lot of people at their offices. Because you do have to go in person to get this new ID, you can’t do it online.

It takes anywhere from three to six weeks to get the actual credential, and with a heavy flow of traffic, that’s probably going to be closer to the six-week period,” says Craddock.

The DMV is asking people to hold off on switching the IDs over right in unless absolutely necessary. So if you have a license renewal in the next two years, you can get the new ID by going in person to the DMV. If you’re not up for renewal, the DMV recommends that you wait, unless you are sure you’ll be traveling or frequenting a federal building.

Is there anyone who won’t need to worry about this at all?

Anyone who is absolutely sure they won’t be flying or entering federal buildings.

The process for getting the new Real-ID certified license is going to be a little onerous.

The DMV is working to make sure that’s not the case. There is also an alternative to the DMV, AAA will also be able to process these new IDs. But wherever you go to get one, you will need to provide four items.

Proof of citizenship or legal residency, such as a birth certificate or a passport.

A social security card or document with a social security number, like a pay stub.

And two proofs of residence. That could be, for example, a mortgage statement or utility bill.