What you need to know about REAL ID in Illinois

What you need to know about REAL ID in Illinois

A trip to renew your state ID or driver’s license can be a confusing experience. Here is what you need to know before you go to get a REAL ID.

Residents around the state have encountered confusion at Secretary of State Driver Services Facilities when they have gone to upgrade to the federally compliant REAL ID. Workers at the facilities have offered differing answers about what documents are acceptable to get the ID.

To help untangle the conflicting information, the Illinois Policy Institute compiled this guide to clarify what documents are needed. Additional questions should be directed to the Illinois Secretary of State by calling 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 starting Oct. 1 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.
  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 is $30, the same as a regular driver’s license or ID. 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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