EDITORIAL: Before you travel, make sure your ID is Real
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EDITORIAL: Before you travel, make sure your ID is Real

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You’ve heard the concerns as an October 2020 deadline approaches: “What’s a ‘Real ID’ and why do I need it to fly?”

A Real ID — one with a star at the upper right corner of your driver’s license — will be required for boarding domestic flights starting in October. It also will be required to visit military bases or enter federal buildings.

We’ve known about this for some time — the Real ID system was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The 9/11 Commission recommended in its 585-page report that the federal government should set standards for identification.

“Fraud in identification documents is no longer just a problem of theft. At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists,” the report noted.

The result has been the Real ID system, and Wisconsin is among the leaders in getting the updated IDs in the hands of travelers. The Badger State started to process them in 2013.

Approximately 40% of Wisconsin drivers already have a Real ID.

“We’re fortunate that a good chunk has been able to move through the Real ID process during their normal renewal cycle, very early,” said Kristina Boardman, administrator of the Division of Motor Vehicles. “We’ve been persuasive over the last couple years.”

Even with that success, though, another 60% of Wisconsin drivers need an updated license, at least if they want to fly domestically next holiday season or ever visit a military base or a federal building.

What do you need to bring to the DMV to get a Real ID?

If you have a passport and a Wisconsin driver’s license already, bring those plus proof of your Social Security number to the DMV. (Social Security number can be proven by your official Social Security card or by a pay stub, 1099 or W2 form with your entire name and Social Security number on it.)

If you are a current Wisconsin resident without a passport who has never changed your name, you can get a Real ID license by bringing a certified U.S. birth certificate, a Wisconsin driver’s license with current address and proof of your Social Security number to the DMV.

If you’ve changed your name through marriage or divorce, you’ll also need a certified marriage certificate and certified record of divorce as well, to prove the history of your name changes.

It’s important to note that while the Real ID is a federal system, it is not required for voting. A valid voter registration is enough.

If you need to get your driver’s license renewed anyway, there is no additional fee for a Real ID compliant card. If your driver’s license is not expired, the cost of a Real ID-compliant card is $14 (the cost of a duplicate license).

Chalk this up as something to do in the coming months, if you have any plans for domestic travel starting in October. There has been plenty of notice. It’s all about our safety.

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