The REAL ID Act and its Effects on your License

by Joshua on July 22, 2013

The devastating affects of 9/11 have caused the US Government to begin searching for new ways to increase the safety of US citizens in all states. One such aspect of security that is currently in government priority is the identification security of all citizens. Discussions within congress have prompted officials to discover new ways of protect from theft. This includes Class D, motorcycle and commercial driver’s licenses, as well as state-issued non-license IDs. As each state begins to make the necessary changes to comply with government policies issued on February of 2013, all drivers and ID holders will begin to notice changes to your local Department of Motor Vehicle branches. Modifications to the process of receiving and renewing your state license will be the most noticeable to both new drivers and those planning to renew. The new changes have been assigned the policy name the REAL ID ACT. It is essential as a driver that you are familiar with the program and its influence on your license, as well as affects to your privacy. You can acquire more information here at:

What is the REAL ID program?

In 2005, the House of Representatives passed a bill called the REAL ID act, which will set federal standards for all drivers’ licenses. Prior to this law, states regulated their own policies concerning the licensing of drivers and decision making was done completely at state level. Once passed, this law was placed low priority until the recent Boston Marathon bombings, which prompted congress to create a strict deadline for state compliance. Despite a slow beginning and much state resistance, the federal government has now issued mandatory compliance from all 50 states by the year 2017.

The REAL ID program introduces the first ‘national ID’, a uniformed piece of identification displaying the same information for every state. The Nation ID requirements will change not only the way in which you renew your license but the physical look of your ID as well. Changes to document standards will also affect new drivers. The federal law imposes tighter guidelines for applying to receive a new license of any type and increases the amount of information that will be displayed. 19 states are currently complying with these stricter laws and more are planning to implement changes between 2013 and the 2017 deadline.

How the REAL ID program affects you

For those currently holding a valid drivers license, the most noticeable changes you will find will be to the physical look of your license itself. States in the process of complying with new regulations plan to make necessary adjustments to each license as drivers renew, meaning you will see the changes on your next renewal date. According to regulations set forth by the Department of Homeland Security, all states must have uniformed personal information displayed on each driver’s license. This information will include:

  • Your full legal name
  • Residential Address
  • Birth date
  • Gender
  • Driver’s license/identification numbers
  • Digital front-facing photograph
  • A digital imprint of your signature

In addition to this information, all drivers’ licenses must now include a common barcode as well as upgraded security devices to further prevent tampering or counterfeiting if your license is lost or stolen. Your license will now also display a star in the upper right-hand corner that signifies your identity has been approved by the TSA and verified before issuing.

New driver’s license applicants will also find a more strict process of identification. The new federal law has imposed tighter verification of presented documents and in some cases; states are implementing even more fierce restrictions than the federal law dictates. For example, New Jersey has created the 6-point ID verification process, assigning a point value to proper forms of identification. New applications can expect to present the following documents:

  • A photo ID, or non-photo ID that shows the applicants entire full legal name. This may cause problems for many applicants as most identification does not show middle names unless specified during the creation process.
  • A valid birth certificate
  • Social Security Number
  • Proof of legal citizenship, or proof of lawful admittance into the US. Applications must be able to provide documentation that they have permission to reside within US borders.
All forms of documentation must have your full legal name, and the name must be uniform on each piece presented. States must also comply with a new national Department of Motor Vehicles database, which will share information regarding each license with all other states. This will include each individual piece of personal information listed on your license. The database will also show your entire driving record and history. This database was created by recommendation of the Department of Homeland Security to increase communication among states and further prevent identity theft.

How you can prepare for REAL ID changes

If you’re a new license applicant, double check that your full legal name is present on your chosen pieces of identification and that the name matches on each document. Make changes to your information before attempting to apply. If your state has not yet implemented the REAL ID program, you must be prepared to present new forms of identification with your next renewal. Gather together new documents for residency, identity and citizenship and assure the names are correct on each. Understanding the changes will help you avoid hassles at the DMV.

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