At the time of writing this, the original window for states to transition their citizens to Real ID was set to close in less than thirty days. Now, due in large part to the coronavirus, the deadline has been moved from October 1st, 2020 to October 1st, 2021. With this extra year in mind, it’s a great time to consider the common misconceptions around the Real ID program — what it is and what it is not.
Why Real ID?
In the years immediately after 9/11, the Federal Government passed the “Federal Real ID Act of 2005”, establishing the first strict nationwide set of security standards around state-issued identification. The primary goal of this legislation was twofold:
- Create standardized criteria for identification nationwide. With increased airport security implemented in the wake of 9/11, it became immediately clear that the level of documentation and verification imposed by the IDs provided by US states and territories were not unanimously valuable. In order to still allow for states to handle DMV and MVD services, yet also create a simpler system for TSA agents to quickly process, the idea for Real ID — a national standard for state-issued identity verification — was born.
- Decrease the overall burden on citizens to verify their identity in certain situations. With the radically-overhauled security protocols implemented into federal buildings, military bases, and, most commonly, airports after 9/11, the burden for confirming our identities quickly created a situation that was inconvenient for the public, which amounted to long wait times and general frustration. By adopting a system that thoroughly verifies a citizen or resident’s identity one time, the individual burden necessary at airports or federal buildings was greatly reduced for the average person.
With these reasons in mind, the Real ID program sought to win over states with the long-term convenience of their citizens and the overall security of airports and federal buildings as the driving force.
Common Real ID Myths
Unfortunately, this program has had mixed results clearly penetrating the public’s understanding. Many citizens have had a Real ID for years and barely know of it, while others may later find out they needed one and failed to obtain it on time. These informational problems are further compounded by myths and misunderstandings surrounding Real ID.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions surrounding Real ID and the role of the DMV or MVD here in New Mexico:
Real ID Isn’t Necessary for Me
True, maybe. For most Americans, their Driver’s License or State ID is the most commonly used form of identification they carry. While there are alternatives to the uses for Real ID, such as a U.S. Passport, the burden for remembering and providing those alternatives will fall on anyone who chooses to not update their standard ID. Also, these alternatives are often more difficult and/or more expensive to obtain than a Real ID. With the vast percentage of domestic commercial flight passengers using a state-issued ID to pass security checkpoints, it is likely that you will really want a Real ID for convenience, even if you could pursue other alternatives.
It is also worth mentioning that Real ID will not be necessary for minors to board a flight, even after the deadline. Drivers under the age of 18 can apply for and receive a Real ID, but will not truly need it until their 18th birthday.
After the Deadline, Standard IDs Won’t Work
False. Valid standard-issue driver’s licenses will still be acceptable for the operation of a vehicle and provide identification benefits in most circumstances. Also, they will continue to be available after the October 1st, 2021 deadline. While most citizens will likely opt for the convenience of a Real ID, standard-issue state ID and driver’s licenses will still be available.
Curious whether your ID is already a Real ID? Check for a star in the upper right corner, which is the nationwide indication of a Real ID.
Real ID Is Needed for Non-Federal Buildings Too
False. Other than airports, there are no current plans to increase security in New Mexico buildings to meet the Real ID criteria. Please check with the security department in advance to be sure of what you need to bring to enter buildings other than those specified for use with Real ID.
Some States Aren’t Using Real ID
False. While this was somewhat true until recently, now every US state and territory has plans for on-time adoption of the Real ID system by the October 1st, 2021 deadline.
With Only a Year Left, New Mexico MVDs are Probably Overloaded
False. Here in New Mexico, the adoption of the Real ID program has progressed even better than initially expected. It is estimated that over 80% of our state’s drivers that qualify already have a Real ID thanks to the state’s early adoption of the program. If you would like to receive a Real ID, you can make a convenient appointment at your nearest MVD Express today to get started!
Obtaining Real ID Requires an In-Person Appointment
True. Since Real ID is a form of federal identification, you must visit a New Mexico MVD in-person when applying for a Real ID for the first time. During that visit, you’ll need to show documentation as outlined by this document for verification.
DHS/MVD Is Compiling Our Information in a Database
False. At the issuance of your Real ID, your New Mexico MVD will verify your identifying documents against existing federal databases; the documentation presented for Real ID is not stored or compiled in a new data system.
MVD Express Can Issue Real ID
True! MVD Express has proudly partnered with the state and national DMV systems for years already and is happy to continue to provide both Real IDs and standard-issue IDs to our New Mexico customers. Learn more here!
Those With Missing Documents Can’t Get Real ID
False. There are ways to obtain copies of any missing documents to ensure that you or your loved ones can obtain a convenient Real ID. Here are some great places to start:
- Where to Write for Vital Records (out-of-state birth certificates)
- NM Vital Records (certified copies of New Mexico birth certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce records)
- NM Courts (name changes, etc.)
- Social Security Administration (replacement and amended social security cards)
However, if you or a loved one is missing a document, we suggest you begin the process of obtaining that as early as possible to ensure you have what you need before the Real ID deadline. You can still obtain the Real ID after that deadline passes, but may have difficulty flying or entering certain locations in the meantime.