Minnesotans whose driver’s licenses or identification cards expire before October 2018 should plan to renew their cards as they normally would, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division (DPS-DVS).

The optional REAL ID-compliant cards will not be available in Minnesota until October 2018.

If a Minnesotan renews his or her license between now and October 2018:

• The renewed license will be valid for four years, barring a suspension or revocation.

• They will be able to apply for a REAL ID once they are available in October.

• If they choose to apply for a REAL ID before their standard license expires, an early renewal fee would be charged and an additional four years would be added to the expiration date.

The cost for a REAL ID is the same as a standard driver’s license ($25.25) or ID card ($19.25). The early renewal fee, set in Minnesota law, is based on how many months the REAL ID is obtained before a person’s driver’s license or ID card expires.

The fee is:

• $2 for a renewal 17 months before expiration.

• $4 for a renewal 18-29 months before expiration.

• $6 for a renewal more than 29 months before expiration.

If someone renews their license this month and then decides to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license in:

• December 2018 – they will pay $25.25 plus a $6 early renewal fee. Their new REAL ID would expire in 2026.

• June 2020 – they will pay $25.25 plus a $4 early renewal fee. Their new REAL ID would expire 2026.

• January 2021 – they will pay $25.25 plus a $2 early renewal fee. Their new REAL ID would expire in 2026.

Minnesotans can apply for a standard or enhanced driver’s license or ID card now and will have the option of applying for a REAL ID-compliant card in October 2018.

Determining which type of license or ID card works best depends on what the card is needed for. A current Minnesota standard driver’s license or ID card may now be used as a valid form of identification and for lawful driving privileges.

These cards are also an acceptable form of ID for domestic air travel and to access federal facilities.

After Oct. 10, 2018, these cards will continue to be a valid form of identification, but they will not be accepted for domestic air travel or access to federal facilities.

Another form of identification, such as a valid passport or enhanced driver’s license (EDL), will be required for air travel or access to federal facilities. In addition to being a valid form of identification and indicating lawful driving privileges, EDLs and enhanced identification cards can be used as a border crossing document to re-enter the U.S. by land and sea from Canada, Mexico and some countries in the Caribbean.

They can also be used for domestic air travel and to access federal facilities and are only issued to U.S. citizens. When they become available in Minnesota, REAL ID-compliant cards will be an accepted form of identification for domestic air travel and to access federal facilities. These cards can be used as a valid form of identification and for lawful driving privileges.

These cards cannot be used as border crossing documents. DPS-DVS and Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) contracted with FAST Enterprises in November 2017 to develop a new driver services system that will produce REAL IDs beginning in October 2018. In late January, DPS-DVS, MNIT and FAST began demonstrating components of the system to internal and external users.

There are system demos scheduled for deputy registrars and driver’s license agents around the state in March. Testing scenario development is under way.

The system will be run through about 6,000 user tests to make sure all types of driver service transactions function correctly. Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards.

The Act refers to federal anti-terrorism laws and regulations that control access to the following:

• Federally regulated commercial aircraft.

• Federal facilities requiring identification to enter, such as military bases or nuclear power facilities.

The Act prohibits federal agencies like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from accepting cards for official purposes from states that do not meet minimum security standards.

While REAL ID enforcement for states without federal extensions began Jan. 22, Minnesotans do not need to take any action at this time. Minnesota has an extension for REAL ID enforcement, allowing federal agencies to accept Minnesota driver’s licenses and identification cards until October 10, 2018.

For more information, visit www.dps.state.mn.us.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety