REAL ID full enforcement deadline six months away

Published 6:51 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2021

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ST. PAUL — Nearly 22 percent of Minnesota driver’s license and ID cardholders have a REAL ID or enhanced driver’s license as the federal REAL ID full enforcement deadline approaches.

Nationwide, approximately 40 percent of all U.S. driver’s licenses and ID cardholders were REAL ID-compliant as of Oct. 1, 2020, according the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, Minnesotans will not be able to use their standard driver’s license or ID card to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities. Instead, they will need one of three options:

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• A passport or passport card;

• A REAL ID; or

• An enhanced driver’s license or ID.

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) lists several other less-common forms of identification that are also acceptable for federal purposes. That list can be found at

“If you have your passport or passport card, you have what you need to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities on and after Oct. 1, 2021,” Driver and Vehicle Services Director Emma Corrie said. “With the federal enforcement deadline approaching, Minnesotans will need to decide about whether or not they need to apply for a REAL ID or enhanced driver’s license or ID card. We have an online tool to help you choose which credential is right for you. We also encourage Minnesotans to review the resources online at to make sure they’re ready on Oct. 1, 2021.”

A REAL ID is optional. Minnesotans may apply for a REAL ID when they renew their license or ID card or apply for a REAL ID early for an additional fee.

Those who choose to apply for a REAL ID or enhanced driver’s license or ID card are strongly encouraged to pre-apply online at before completing the application process in person at a DVS exam station, deputy registrar or driver’s license office. Pre-applying saves time during the office visit and helps ensure customers bring the correct documents when they apply.

Federal and Minnesota laws require a person to submit their original required documents, pass a vision screening and have a new photo taken to complete their application.

Pre-applying online at is the best way to make sure applicants have everything they need before they visit a driver’s license office. This feature allows Minnesotans to enter a significant portion of their application online, reducing the time they spend in the office. It also lists the required documents for each license type so applicants can have all necessary documents ready when they visit their local office.

Any eligible Minnesotan can apply for a REAL ID before their license expires, but there is a fee in addition to the standard cost of the license or ID card. It depends on how early you renew. Those fees are:

• $2 for a renewal up to 17 months before expiration;

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

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

When renewing early, four years will be added to the license or ID card’s original expiration date, so while an early renewal will cost a little more, the license or ID card will be valid for a longer period of time. The early renewal option is only for those who renewed their Minnesota driver’s license or ID card before REAL IDs were available on Oct. 1, 2018. Their licenses must also expire after the full enforcement date of Oct. 1.

Minnesotans are required to provide additional documentation when applying for a REAL ID, compared to a standard driver’s license or ID card. A person must provide the following in person when applying:

• One document proving identity, date of birth and legal presence in the United States. If the name on the identity document is not the same as a person’s current name, a name change document must be submitted;

• One document proving social security number. If you have not updated your name change with the Social Security Administration, you must do so prior to applying for a Real ID.

• Two different documents proving current residency in Minnesota.

Must have applicant’s current legal name and current address in Minnesota. A P.O. Box will not suffice as proof of current residency in Minnesota.

Applicants must provide original documents or documents certified by the agency that issued them. DPS-DVS cannot accept laminated documents or digital documents shown on your phone or other electronic device. A full list of accepted documentation is on the REAL ID website at

DPS-DVS has a variety of resources online at The latest resources include an updated video outlining what Minnesotans need to do to be REAL ID ready by Oct. 1. The video is also available with Hmong, Spanish and Somali captioning.

Passports and passport cards meet federal identification requirements, so Minnesotans who already have passports do not need to apply for a REAL ID or enhanced driver’s license. They can simply use their passport or passport card to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities on and after Oct. 1.

State Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs) are REAL ID-compliant and are acceptable for official federal purposes such as accessing a federal facility or boarding commercial aircraft. They are also designated as acceptable border-crossing documents by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and can be used to travel by land or sea to Mexico, Canada and some Caribbean countries. Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington are the only states that currently issue EDLs.                             

Minnesotans who have an enhanced driver’s license or ID (EDL/EID) can continue to use it to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities after Oct. 1. EDL/EIDs issued on and after Nov. 16, 2020, have a gold star on the top right corner of the card to indicate they are federally accepted forms of identification.