REAL ID is coming to Minnesota: What you need to know

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It has been a bit of a long road for Minnesota to get going on the straight and narrow with federal regulations for REAL ID. Minnesota was the last state to comply with the federal plan to implement REAL ID.

What is REAL ID?


REAL ID stems from the REAL ID Act that was passed by Congress in 2005. This act was the result of a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of source of identification such as driver’s licenses.” The purpose of the act was to set minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Another caveat of this Act was prohibiting Federal agencies from accepting any identification issued by states that do not meet these requirements (News Release).

Requirements of REAL ID Act


The next question is going to be, “What are the requirements?” Well, the requirements for the license itself are pretty basic:

– Full Legal Name
– Signature
– Date of Birth
– Gender
– Unique Identifying Number
– Principal residence Address
– Front-facing photograph of applicant

There is documentation required before the issuing of a license or even an ID card under the REAL ID Act. The required documentation is as follows:

– A photo ID, or a non-photo ID that includes full legal name and birth date
– Documentation of birth date (birth certificate)
– Documentation of legal status and Social Security number
– Documentation (two documents) showing name and principal residence address

All the above documents must be verified. Like most government agencies the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has rules upon rules for validating these documents. There is even a rule about validating documents.

The Real ID Act, Section 202(c)(3), requires the states to “verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document.”  So, even if you show up with all the documents above, the state is responsible to make sure they are real by speaking with whomever created them. The same section states that the only foreign document acceptable is a foreign passport (REAL ID Act).

When validating birth certificates they should be verified electronically, by accessing the Electronic Verification of Vital Events (EVVE) system maintained by the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), rather than with whomever created the birth certificate, this is according to The DHS rule, Section 37.13(b)(3).

Section 37.11(c) of the DHS final rule allows the states to accept several types of documents as proof of social security number; this proof could be a social security card, a W-2 form, an SSA-1099 form, a non-SSA-1099 form, or a pay stub bearing the applicant’s name and Social Security Number. There is no requirement for the validity of these documents to be verified with the employer or issuer. Instead, the DHS rule requires the states to verify the validity, and its match with the name given, of the social security number itself, via electronically querying the Social Security On-Line Verification (SSOLV) database managed by the Social Security Administration.

But the DHS’s final rule pertaining to the implementation of the Real ID Act driver’s license provisions is fairly relaxed. There are even some instances where the rule waives the above verification requirements of the Real ID Act; the DHS rule concedes that there is no practical mechanism to verify with the issuers the validity of documents proving the applicant’s primary address (such as a mortgage statement or a utility bill) and leaves the implementation of this verification requirement to discretion of the states (found on page 5297 of the DHS final rule in the Federal Register). It then decides that in Section 37.11(c), that it is mandatory that the Real ID license applicants be required to present at least two documents documenting the address of their primary residence (government red tape at its finest).

(Federal Register. Part II Department of Homeland Security)

Minnesota’s Bumpy REAL ID History


If you are wondering why Minnesota was the among the very last to adopt plans for REAL ID, there are two reasons: The first is a law from 2009 that prohibits the Commissioner of the Department of Public safety from implementing or planning to implement REAL ID. This was H.F. 988 (Mariani)/S.F. 738(Limmer). The bill passed unanimously in the House and with just one opposing vote in the Senate. The reasons for creation of this bill centered around privacy and data sharing. Some of the concern expressed at the time were the following:
– Federal intrusion in an area normally under state jurisdiction
– The basic creation of a Nathional ID Card
– Civil Liberties
– Data privacy
– Security, control, and oversight of state data, and mandatory sharing of electronic data       with the federal government and across states
– The State of Minnesota would have to fund implementation costs

(Memo from Research Department of the Minnesota House of Representatives)

This issue was resolved last May, 2017, after Governor Dayton signed a bill that allows the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Drive and Vehicle Services (DPS-DVS) to begin the process of meeting the requirements of the REAL ID Act( News Release). This new law requires that DPS-DVS start issuing REAL ID licenses no later that October 1st, 2018. Current driver’s licenses will still be able to be used for the boarding of domestic flights until January 22, 2018.  Governor Dayton did apply for an extension (for the third time) for remain non-compliant with REAL ID. This extension would last until October 1st of 2020 and allow Minnesotans to use our current driver’s licenses to board domestic air flights until then if it is approved.

The second reason for the delay in Minnesota accepting REAL ID requirements has stemmed from a political battle over illegal immigrants being able to get a driver’s license in the state of Minnesota. One side wants to allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses to make roads safer, and the opposition wants to tack on to the REAL ID bill a legal ban of illegal immigrants getting a driver’s license. The law that passed most recently for REAL ID was just about REAL ID implementation, and made no mention of the immigration issue.

What This Means for You


Not much is going to change for those of us that still currently have a driver’s license. Those that currently have a driver’s license are not required to get a REAL ID until the current license expires. If you want one before then you get get one and pay a little bit more to have your expiration date extended from the expiration date on your current license. To renew your license early, it will be “$2 for a current expiration date of no more than 17 months from the date of application; $4 for a current expiration date of 18 months to no more than 29 months; $6 for a current expiration date of more than 29 months,” according to the proposed law (Stassen-Berger).

Even when your driver’s license does expire, you won’t be required to get a REAL ID. The thing to keep in mind if you opt out of getting a REAL ID is that you will need an extra form of identification when flying, such as a passport, to board a domestic air flight.