Travel Tips

What You Need to Know about REAL ID and How to Get One
March 3, 2020

REAL ID is coming, a change that has a lot of people confused. Not everyone needs a REAL ID, and many are wondering whether the experience to get one is worth it. One of our team members went to the DMV recently to get a REAL ID so she could share her experience.

What is a REAL ID?
First, a REAL ID is a form of identification approved by the federal government. You do not need it to drive; your regular driver’s license is just fine. However, you will need it to board U.S. flights. Originally, the deadline was October 1, 2020, but the deadline has been pushed back due to Coronavirus and is now set for October 2021. If you don’t have a REAL ID by that time, you can use a valid passport to fly domestically.

How do I know if I have a REAL ID?
If you haven’t changed your identification lately, you probably don’t. But you can tell if your ID is compliant because it will have a symbol on top, either a star or bear.

What’s the process to get a REAL ID?
In North Carolina, you’ll go to the DMV to get your new identification. The DMV advises you to make an appointment if possible. Your visit will include a vision test and a new photo. Read more about What to Expect for Your REAL ID visit.

You will need to bring the following documentation:

• One document (with full name) proving identity and date of birth
• One document (with full name and full Social Security number) confirming Social Security number
• Two documents (with current physical address) proving North Carolina residency
• For non-U.S. citizens, one document (with full name) proving legal presence/lawful status
• If applicable, one or more documents verifying any name change

The DMV has a list of acceptable documents for each of these categories.

Our Experience with REAL ID
Earlier in 2020, REAL ID was a hot topic, and the news shared stories of long lines at the DMV.
Maupin team member Logan recently visited the DMV to get her REAL ID and said the process wasn’t that bad:

I visited the DMV to update my driver’s license to the REAL ID on a Monday at 11 a.m. Our DMV allowed the option to reserve a spot in line. When we arrived, we first noticed a note on the door explaining that 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. usually had the longest lines. The note was correct, and the entire waiting room was full. Toward the end of the lunch hour, it started to clear out.
With our reserved spots, we were able to complete the REAL ID process in around an hour and a half. Thankfully, our DMV checked to ensure we had all the required documents prior to waiting in line. We saw many people turned away for not having the proper documentation. We also noticed many people who had reserved specific appointments. These people were able to complete their REAL ID update in under 30 minutes.

Based on our experience, suggestions for surviving the DMV:
1. Make sure you have all your documents prior. Triple check this!
2. If possible, make an appointment for your REAL ID update or try to go outside of the standard lunch hours.
3. Bring a good attitude, and the process is easy!

Final Notes
We’ve heard from others that if you get your REAL ID, avoid Mondays and Fridays. Also, the DMV has organized some express days, during which they only handle REAL IDs. Check with your local DMV for those dates.

• What is REAL ID? –

• Homeland Security REAL ID FAQs –