Travel anywhere and you know you need some form of identification.  A drive to the grocery store?  Driver license required.  Doctor’s appointment?  Insurance card at the ready.  Need to access your money at the ATM?  PIN number, please.  Checking into a hotel?  Pony up your photo ID.  Taking off across the pond?  Passport ready to be stamped.

ID requirements insure we all have a safer landscape.  It secures your money, your benefits, your cell phone, your voicemail.  It is in place to mitigate security issues in airports, cruise terminals, bus stations, ballparks, concert arenas.  And while it may sometimes seem a pain in the caboose, it ultimately is there to benefit us, to protect us, to protect those around us.

For travel within this country, a driver license, government issued ID card, or birth certificate will mostly suffice.  Travel abroad and a passport is necessary, as is a visa depending on locale being visited.

I travel a lot these days.  It is one of the great joys in my life being able to do so.  On average for 2019, I have found myself in an airport 2.33 times per month.  And June isn’t over yet.  Like many frequent travelers, I carry my passport, regardless of destination.  It is the gold standard in terms of travel identification.  I also pay for a CLEAR membership where my fingerprint and boarding pass are my ID at multiple airports in the USA.

But for those who do not yet own a passport, or do not ever foresee the need for one, a driver license has been a perfectly acceptable form of in country travel ID.

But that is changing.

Welcome to Real ID.

The information about the change began being disseminated when the REAL ID bill was signed into law in 2005.  REAL ID was created in response to a post-9/11 world in which identification requirements began to be strengthened.  But it was also something that could not be instantaneously rolled out across the board, so states were given time (years) to plan to implement the more stringent ID inclusions.  They may include a barcode (containing all data about a person including social security, birthdate, and more) a hologram to make it more difficult to counterfeit an ID.  The REAL ID Database will include scans of all ID used to obtain a REAL ID compliant identification.

Pfft, you snort.  How does this apply to me? 

Simple.  Once this goes live and every adult is required to have a REAL ID compliant form of identification for travel, your old driver license will no longer get you on that plane to granny’s or Disney World.  (Passports will remain the gold standard as they already require the more stringent ID to obtain.)

Reading the updates about the process, I became curious.  What is the time frame for Colorado to comply?  What do I need to do to obtain a driver license that is in compliance?

Turns out, I already have one.  See that star in the upper right corner?  That is how a license is instantly identified as being compliant with the Act.

So how did I get one without knowing?  Well, my state has been creating REAL ID driver licenses for some time now and when I moved here and went to the DMV, I was automatically upgraded to a Colorado license that is compliant.  All my identification I presented was scanned into the database.

So, as you scramble for your license and wonder what steps you need to take, start here: 

Your state can be clicked on to see where it is in terms of compliance and also what steps you will need to be taking.  Even if you state has already come into compliance, you may continue to use your old non-compliant license until September 30, 2020.  But as of October 1, it will no longer serve any purpose for travel.

How does one go about acquiring the updated ID?  You will have to visit your local DMV – I know, I know, that ranks right up there with root canals and prostate exams in terms of desire to do – but it cannot be done online or by mail.  You will need to present the following:

  • An original or certified document that proves your identity, such as a passport or birth certificate. Photocopies won’t be accepted.
  • A document that shows your Social Security number, such as a W-2 form.
  • Two documents that prove your residency, including your street address, such as a utility bill, rental agreement or mortgage statement. You can use photocopies for these.
  • If you’ve changed your legal name, you’ll need additional original or certified documents.
  • Cash, check or debit card to pay the fee. The cost varies by state, but it’s usually less than $60.

The good news is that once you have updated your license or ID card, you are set for quite a while to be able to enter nuclear plants, federal facilities, and commercial aircraft.

Yes, as with so many things in our public lives, this one is a pain, but a necessary evil.  But then, that Act was passed in 2005 and it is now mid 2019 – I’d say we have been given more than enough time to come to terms.

So as you begin to think about travel in 2020 and beyond, start carving out time for that trip to the DMV because those lines are only going to get longer as the deadline approaches.  At least they won’t ask you to bend over and cough.







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