Do you have a gold star on the top right of your driver’s license? Otherwise, you are not federally compliant. You don’t have a REAL ID.
Covid-19 delayed the start of the federal Real ID program. It was supposed to start on October 1, 2020, but just like college loans, that date has been pushed back throughout the pandemic.
What do you want to know
Does the law require getting a REAL ID?
No. It is not required, but rather an option for Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.
So why would we want it?
The REAL ID Act was created by Congress in 2005, following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
As noted on the US Department of Homeland Security’s website, “The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for the issuance and production of licenses and prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses and IDs for certain purposes. state identification cards that do not meet the minimum standards of the act purposes covered by the act are: access to certain federal facilities, entry into nuclear power plants, and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft . »
So here is. Most of us fall under the REAL ID Act’s third objective, boarding a commercial aircraft, but it also allows access to a military base, courthouse, or other secure federal building.
Think of it as a way for the federal government to track its citizens in a simpler registry.
You might think this is more of a “big brother” intervention, and that might be true, but it keeps us safer.
According to nh.gov, here is a picture of what a REAL ID looks like. It has a larger star at the top, allowing you to be federally identified. It also allows you to fly on a domestic commercial aircraft without further identification.
If you don’t have a star inside the state outline, like Maine, or on the top right, like Massachusetts and New Hampshire, then you have a license that can’t be used for federal ID, and it says “NOT FOR FEDERAL ID” on your new license.
You have until May 2023 to renew and decide. The fee is $50 for Massachusetts and $55 for Maine. For New Hampshire, it costs $50 for regular ID and $60 for REAL ID.
If you do not have a REAL ID by May 2023, you will need a passport to enter federal buildings and travel within the country. The choice is yours. Check your state’s website for more information at nh.gov, maine.gov, or mass.gov.
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