Beginning on October 1 of this year, the U.S. federal government will require anyone boarding an airplane for domestic travel or entering certain federal buildings to have a “verified” driver’s license, state-issued ID card or show additional proof of identification, such as a passport. This verification is indicated on your driver’s license or ID card by a gold star in the top right corner and is commonly referred to as a “REAL ID.”
Why? In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act of 2005, a federal law modifying the security standard for identification documents. Congress passed the legislation in response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government set requirements and issue standards for federal identification document recognition. Travelers will start to notice signs at airports across the country with reminders about the law going into effect.
“The law was passed to stop terrorists from using fraudulent identification,” said William Csontos, the Transportation Security Administration director for Connecticut. “REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and identification cards," he said.
With the October 1 deadline rapidly approaching, it is important to know what you need to do to make your domestic and international airline travel go as smoothly as possible.
You needa REAL ID if:
• You do not have a valid U.S. passport, passport card; and
• You use airplanes as a mode of domestic transportation.
You do not needa REAL ID if:
• You have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, but you must carry it with you when you fly.
• You do not use airplanes as a mode of domestic transportation.
If you have a “Drive Only” license, you are noteligible for a REAL ID license. The Connecticut DMV has a program of issuing “Drive Only” licenses to undocumented individuals or people without a Social Security number.
If you already have a Connecticut license or ID card, getting your identity verified through DMV is optional. The verification process is a one-time check; therefore, if you have the gold star you are all set and meet federal standards.
To apply for a REAL ID, you can visit any DMV office or partner office like DMV Express in Milford, North Haven, Stamford, and West Haven). Bring your required documents, including your U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate, Social Security card, and two pieces of mail (from two different sources and date stamped within 90 days) to prove that you live in Connecticut. If your Social Security card is not available, you also may present a W-2 form, 1099 form or a pay stub with your name and SSN listed.
If you are not due for renewal, but would still like to obtain a REAL ID, you can convert your license or ID for a $30 duplication fee. It may take approximately two weeks to receive your REAL ID in the mail, so if you have any travel plans, or have a license that is expiring soon, you should start this process immediately.
Once you have completed the process of obtaining your REAL ID card or have secured the other documents necessary to travel domestically, you’re ready to go!