Starting in October 2020, Virginians must have a more security-enhanced driver’s license to be able to board a domestic flight. Due to this, expect to need to show many more personal documents at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get one.
Passed by Congress in 2005 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the REAL ID Act requires the new enhanced driver’s licenses to meet certain security standards. Although enforcement of the law has taken over a decade to come full circle, starting in fall 2020, all travelers across the nation must have a compliant driver’s license.
Though, alternates will be accepted, such as a passport or a trusted traveler card, like Global Entry, to be granted access by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) through security checkpoints at airports to fly domestically.
After the law goes into effect, current driver’s licenses will remain valid only for driving and voting.
In a report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Brandy Brubaker, a spokeswoman with the Virginia DMV, has responded to multiple complaints about new driver’s licenses. “If you don’t fly domestically or if you want to use a passport, you don’t have to apply for one,” she said bluntly.
To apply for a compliant driver’s license or ID card, Virginians at the DMV must present, in person:
Proof of identity and legal presence (an unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate).
Social Security number (via a Social Security card or payroll check stub).
Two proofs of Virginia residency (utility bill, phone bill, mortgage statement, etc.).
Legal name changes (marriage certificate, if changes to last name).
For those who forgo the new security-enhanced license, it will display a “Federal Limits Apply” disclaimer on them so the person will not be able to board a plane using a non-REAL ID.
REAL ID-compliant cards will display a small star in the upper right corner to show proper security.
Passports now cost $145 for a first-time applicant age 16 and older. For first-time applicants, all paperwork and documentation must be done at a DMV or passport office.
Virginia residents will have to pay the standard $32 renewal fee for those under 75, if applying within one year of the current card’s expiration date, plus a one-time $10 fee for the REAL ID-compliant card. Anyone with a license expiring in several years can opt to pay the standard $20 replacement fee for a card, in addition to the $10 fee.
Currently, over half the states in the country are already in compliance with the REAL ID Act. Virginia, however, has been slow to move.
In 2009, the state adopted additional security measure for driver’s licenses and identification cards, which included switching the main photo on the card to black-and-white and adding a secondary photo displayed in a clear window.
Only having the new driver’s license will not be permit one to fly internationally – a passport is still required.