Stress saver tips for getting the REAL ID

Married couples: Here’s what you need to know about getting the REAL ID

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Jul 17 · 5 min read
Photo credit: matuska/Pixabay

Do you have your REAL ID yet — without crying at the DMV? Congratulations, you have survived. For those of you who have yet to experience the painful experience of getting this new ID, especially married people who changed their names, here’s what you need to do and what you should absolutely avoid.

What is the REAL ID?

Starting October 1, 2020, every state and territory resident must present a REAL ID compliant license/ID, or another acceptable form of identification, for accessing federal facilities and boarding commercial aircraft. (And if hanging out at nuclear power plants is your thing, that includes you too.) This “card-based” enforcement does not require people to present ID at federal locations where it was not required before (ex. Smithsonian).

Can I board a flight without a REAL ID?

Starting October 1, 2020, if you want to make your flight, you need a REAL ID or another TSA-approved form of ID (ex. U.S. passport, DHS trusted traveler cards, etc.)

Photo credit: Create Her Stock

Will a name change (ex. marriage) make it more difficult to get the REAL ID?

Good grief, it seems like it. I’ve never been so relieved I never walked down an aisle after hearing my mother’s DMV excursion. My married mother has been getting her license renewed without problems for almost 39 wedded years. (Let’s call her Seleste Yvette Venton for the purpose of this post.) When my mother (Seleste) got married, she made her maiden name (Yvette) her new middle name. Then, she took my father’s last name (Venton). (That would make her new name Seleste Yvette Venton.)

Do you plan to travel after getting married? Are you changing your last name? You may need more documentation than usual to get the REAL ID. (Photo credit: Digital Marketing Agency/Pixabay)

After almost four decades of never having an issue, that came to an abrupt stop when getting a REAL ID. She showed up with her birth certificate, Social Security card and license. The DMV turned her away because her Social Security card and birth certificate obviously had her maiden name (Seleste Yvette) on them. Her license had her duo name (maiden + married) on them. The identifying documents must have matching names. Even when going home to get her marriage certificate to confirm the name change, she was still informed that she would have to get a new license with just her first name and married name — not the maiden name. Then, she would be able to get the REAL ID afterward. (If she had an ID with just her married name, Seleste Venton, she may have been able to move forward. But you are not permitted to have a state ID and a driver’s license at the same time.)

What kind of documents can I bring to prove a change of address?

Electricity bills, mortgage statements and voter registration cards work. They must be printed out. The DMV will not accept digital versions on your phone because they want to scan the documents received. They also cannot be more than 90 days old. And they’ll unclip all of your statements and apparently refuse to staple them once they hand them back.

Does my child need a REAL ID?

Children under the age of 18 do not need a REAL ID if accompanied by an adult.

Do I get to take a new photo for the REAL ID?

Photo credit: Saifulmulia/Pixabay

Yes, it’s required. Be prepared for chatty employees who will try to click the photograph without telling you first. To save yourself from a terrible photo, immediately put your hand over your mouth like you’re coughing and stare until your chatty photographer makes eye contact. They cannot take the photograph if you look like Mr. Wilson from “Home Improvement.”

Why is the REAL ID not enforced in the state I live in?

Some of you lucked out, I guess. While the REAL ID is a mandate on federal agencies, state participation is voluntary. Federal agencies are still prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses or ID cards from noncompliant states though, so you may have a helluva time getting home from one compliant state to a noncompliant state.

What do I have to do to get a passport instead of a REAL ID?

The good news is passport photographs can be taken at numerous neighborhood locations, such as CVS and Walgreens. But you’d still have to go through the same process of confirming your identity with a previous or current U.S. passport book, previous or current U.S. passport card, driver’s license (temporary or learner’s license don’t count), Certificate of Naturalization or a Certificate of Citizenship. Click here to download the official passport form.

Photo credit: cytis/Pixabay

Can I get a REAL ID card and a REAL ID driver’s license?

No, the federal government prohibits this duo.

Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn

What documents do I need to bring to get the REAL ID?

Be prepared to dump out everything from your fire-safe lock box and your safety box. Go in there ready for them to try to dismiss you like Thanos. When they reject one thing, pow, now you’ve got another. If you decide to travel light for this two-hour minimum excursion (at least for me), at least bring two of these: birth certificate, Social Security card, employment authorization document (EAD), U.S. passport, permanent resident card, Certificate of Naturalization, Consumer Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).

Got more questions? Visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security site.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

14-year journalist; freelance writer/editor (Upwork); Wag! dog walker; Rover dog sitter; Toastmasters member/3x officer; cohost of Do Not Submit; Shamontiel.com

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