Coronavirus pandemic delays REAL ID deadline

Coronavirus pandemic delays REAL ID deadline

Americans previously needed to update their ID by Oct. 1 to be allowed to fly and visit federal facilities without additional documentation.

The REAL ID deadline of Oct. 1 has been delayed because of the rise of coronavirus in the United States.

On March 23, President Donald Trump announced the deadline would be pushed back because driver services facilities around the country, including in Illinois, have closed in response to COVID-19.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White days later announced in a press release that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “has extended the federal REAL ID deadline an additional year to Oct. 1, 2021.”

All Illinois Secretary of State facilities are closed through at least April 7 as a result of the pandemic. “Expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification (ID) cards, vehicle registrations and other transactions and document filings will be extended 30 days after Driver Services Facilities reopen,” the Secretary of State’s website states. The site also has a list of frequently asked questions about the closings and deadlines.

“We are postponing the deadline for compliance with REAL ID requirement at a time when we are asking Americans to maintain social distancing,” Trump said at his coronavirus press briefing.

Before they were ordered closed, Illinois Secretary of State facilities had reported large crowds and long wait times in recent months as residents tried to upgrade their ID before the Oct. 1 deadline.

In February, acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf said two-thirds of Americans still had not gotten their ID upgraded, according to USA Today.

Here’s what is needed to obtain a federally compliant REAL ID after Illinois Secretary of State facilities reopen. Additional questions should be directed to 800-252-8980, which is toll-free within Illinois, or by checking the state’s REAL ID website.

What is the REAL ID and why do I need it?

The REAL ID is a driver’s license or state ID that is compliant with the REAL ID Act Congress passed in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. All states are required to offer IDs upgraded to the new standard.

The REAL ID will be needed to fly domestically or visit military bases and other secure federal facilities. If you have a valid passport, you can use it for identification instead of a REAL ID.

How do I know if I have a REAL ID?

The Illinois REAL IDs have a star in a gold circle at the top right corner to show they are federally compliant. You can still get a regular ID, but it will say “Federal Limits Apply” at the top and you will not be able to use it for the above-mentioned purposes.

What do I need to do to get one?

The Secretary of State outlines steps and acceptable documents on its website, but here is a summary.

  1. Visit a Secretary of State Driver Services Facility after they reopen, which is tentatively set for April 7.
  2. Provide a document identifying yourself. Acceptable documents include:
    • Birth certificate (if your current name is different, a name change document such as a marriage certificate also is required)
    • U.S. passport or passport card
    • Consular Report of Birth Abroad from the U.S. Department of State
    • Certificate of citizenship from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    • Certificate of naturalization
    • Employment authorization document
    • Foreign passport with a valid U.S. visa
  3. Provide proof of your Social Security number. This can be done with a Social Security card, a W-2 or a pay stub with the full number on it.
  4. Provide two current residency documents with your full name on them. This can include:
    • A bank statement or canceled check dated within 90 days of your application
    • A credit card statement (Note: Some Secretary of State employees have told people this is the same as a bank statement and is not acceptable. However, a credit card statement is acceptable even if you also are providing a bank statement from the same place).
    • A school report card or certified transcript
    • Credit reports from Experian, Equifax or TransUnion within the past 12 months
    • Deed/title, mortgage or rental/lease agreement
    • Insurance policy
    • Letter on official school letterhead dated within 90 days of your application
    • Medical claim or statement from a private or public insurance company dated within 90 days of your application
    • Pay stub
    • Official mail from the federal, state, county or local government
    • Pension or retirement statement
    • Official mail from a college or university within the past year
    • Utility bill within the past 90 days
    • Voter registration card
  5. Provide proof of signature. This can be done with a credit/debit card, canceled check or current ID.
  6. Look for your new ID in the mail within 15 business days. You will be given a temporary paper ID when you leave the facility.

Can I fly with the temporary paper ID?

No, you cannot. Other documentation such as a passport would be necessary.

What does it cost?

The fee to get a REAL ID when renewing a driver’s license or ID is the same as a regular renewal: $30. However, there is a surcharge if you are paying with a card.

What if my current ID doesn’t need to be renewed? Can I still get a REAL ID?

Yes, you can still apply for the REAL ID but there will be a $5 change fee. If your license does not expire for more than a year, the REAL ID will still have the same expiration date.

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