The REAL ID looks like any other state-issued driver license, but that gold star emblem in the upper corner is what makes it different from a regular driver license. Beginning in May of next year, having a license in your wallet with a REAL ID enhancement could save you time at the airport or if you need to gain access to a military base, federal courthouse or federal prison, according to N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.
Goodwin spoke with John C. Rose on Wednesday’s TownTalk to discuss details of the REAL ID.
The REAL ID is a way “to verify cardholders’ identities and lawful presence in the United States,” Goodwin explained.
There are specific supporting documents that individuals must provide to initially obtain a REAL ID, but drivers or others who already are in the DMV system may find the process less complicated than someone applying for the first time, he added.
Applicants must apply in person at their local DMV office; the initial process cannot be completed online because the documents must be scanned and stored in the DMV system.
Following is a list of documents needed to apply for a REAL ID:
Although May 3, 2023 has been designated as the date that enforcement of the 2005 REAL ID Act will begin, Goodwin said “it’s not really a deadline, per se, but that’s when federal authorities will begin enforcing it.” He added those with REAL IDs can “visit efficiently” facilities such as nuclear power plants, military bases, federal courthouses and federal prisons.
Domestic airline travelers can show a current passport along with their driver license in lieu of carrying a REAL ID; Goodwin said it is not necessary to have the special ID to vote or to apply for, or receive, any federal benefits.
“It’s a special type of identification issued by each state that is a product of our need as a country to protect ourselves from a national security standpoint after 9/11,” Goodwin explained.
Goodwin recently completed the process of obtaining his own REAL ID, and said any of the 117 DMV agencies across the state can help individuals do the same.
Visit https://www.ncdot.gov/ to learn more about NC REAL ID, the necessary documents and the process for obtaining a REAL ID.