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What Travelers Need to Do to Prepare for REAL ID Compliance in 2020

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The first thing travelers should know about REAL ID is that they only have until October 1, 2020, to ensure that their driver’s license is compliant, otherwise, a passport or some other acceptable form of identification will be needed to pass through the TSA checkpoint and board a domestic flight.

If you haven’t yet secured your REAL ID, don’t worry because you’re not alone.

Approximately 99 million Americans are right there with you. But time flies, and while going through airport security screening can be unpleasant, nothing tops getting turned away before you even have a chance to take your shoes off.

Being REAL ID-compliant is nothing to worry about. Essentially, the federal government just wants to make sure it knows who you are and what state you live in before you board an aircraft.

Requirements to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license vary by state so be sure to check the website of the state you live in to save time, stress and guarantee the smoothest application process possible. For example, Oklahoma and Oregon still aren’t yet compliant but will be ready to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses by next year.

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DMV.org is an excellent resource for everyone and a great place to start.

Regardless of where you live though, visiting the DMV office can be a headache so here are some things you can do in advance to prepare for your appointment and avoid any potential pitfalls.

First, you’ll need to prove your full legal name. Be sure to bring along items such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree if your name isn’t the same on all of the necessary proof documents.

You’ll also need to provide proof of your identity, which can include documents like a birth certificate (I live in Maryland and was able to get a brand new copy of my birth certificate mailed to me for about $40 last year. Head to CDC.gov and you’ll have yours in no time) or a valid U.S. passport.

You’ll also need proof of your Social Security number. If you don’t have your Social Security card handy, a W-2 form or a payroll check stub from work should suffice.

Proof of residency is also a must. See if you can track down a recent monthly mortgage statement, a bank or credit card statement or a utility bill. On top of that, your proof of legal presence must show your full legal name and date of birth to be valid.

While gathering up all of your necessary documents might seem daunting, simply scheduling an appointment at your local office is the last and likely the biggest hurdle en route to the finish line, which is less than 10 months away. The reality is that if you’re properly prepared, it should only take you a few minutes to obtain your REAL ID-compliant driver’s license.

Flying can be stressful enough, make sure your ID is good to go now and avoid the headaches later.

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