Time to get REAL


Are you planning a flight as part of a future trip across the country? Do you have upcoming business to conduct at, or another reason to visit, a federal facility?

Soon, you’ll likely need an enhanced form of identification to get aboard your plane or through the door.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, Rhode Islanders will need a REAL ID for air travel or to enter any secure federal facility or military base.

While other federally issued documents – such as a passport, passport card or federal identification – will meet the criteria, many residents will need to ensure they have a star encircled in gold on their driver’s license by the time next October arrives to avoid any disruption in travel plans.

What is REAL ID? According to the Transportation Security Administration, it is a “coordinated effort by the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver’s licenses and identification cards.” The agency says the program – established under the REAL ID Act of 2005 – is part of a push to “inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”

The REAL ID upgrade is optional, although DMV notes that after the deadline arrives, regular Rhode Island licenses will have the words “Not for Federal Identification” printed at the top. That, in turn, will prevent people from using their license to board a plane or enter a federal facility.

REAL ID driver’s licenses in Rhode Island, which have been available for a number of months, include a small star inside a gold circle in the upper right corner indicating it meets new federal security standards. The Division of Motor Vehicles is providing the REAL ID upgrade at no cost to motorists during regular renewal periods, although it will cost drivers $26.50 to upgrade outside of their typical renewal window.

We urge our readers, and all Rhode Islanders, to remain aware of – and prepared for – the impending changes. We have received several anecdotal reports of people encountering difficulties when attempting to upgrade to REAL ID at a DMV office or AAA branch, including being required to provide documentation that had not been expected.

We also suggest acting sooner than later to avoid a rush as the October 2020 deadline nears. In a recent report from WPRI, DMV spokesman Paul Grimaldi indicated that at present, only 12 percent of Rhode Island drivers have obtained REAL ID.

According to DMV, those seeking the REAL ID upgrade will be required to provide several pieces of documentation, including one proof of identity, one proof of legal presence, two proofs of Rhode Island residency, a Social Security card for those who have been issued one and a current driver’s license if applying to exchange one issued by another state.

A full list of documentation that meets the criteria, along with other information about the Rhode Island REAL ID driver’s license program, can be found on the DMV’s website, dmv.ri.gov.

We’ll keep you posted on any new developments in the year ahead, and would encourage anyone who experiences issues during their REAL ID upgrade to let us know at dank@rhodybeat.com. We’ll do our best to help the members of our communities navigate this process smoothly and successfully.


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Am I understanding this correctly? If I upgrade to the new Real ID during my regular renewal period, it won't cost me anything. If I do it outside of that time period, I have to pay 26.50. But, they are requiring people to do it by October 2020. What if from now until then, it is not someone's regular renewal period? Will they have to pay?

Thursday, October 10, 2019