You are going to need a more security-enhanced driver’s license to take a domestic flight starting in October 2020 — and expect to show a lot more documents to get that new license.
Starting in October of this year, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will begin issuing new driver’s licenses and identification cards that are compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. Passed by Congress in 2005 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the law requires the new enhanced driver’s licenses to meet certain security standards.
Virginians can get the new licenses this year, but they won’t be needed for domestic travel until Oct. 1, 2020.
That’s when the federal government will require all travelers here and across the nation to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license — or an alternate acceptable identification such as a passport or a trusted traveler card, such as Global Entry — to pass through Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints at airports to fly domestically.
“I’d prefer not to have to go to the DMV to get the new card, ’cause the Virginia driver’s license should be adequate to get you onto the plane,” said Troy Harris, who is from Virginia Beach and recently spent a few weeks in Korea. “It’s proof that you’re a citizen and that you live here. Why have all the extra stuff if you don’t need it?”
The current driver’s licenses will remain valid after Oct. 1, 2020, for driving and voting.
“If you don’t fly domestically or if you want to use a passport, you don’t have to apply for one,” Brandy Brubaker, a spokeswoman with the Virginia DMV, said about the compliant driver’s license.
Some travelers, including Nancy Taylor of Goochland County, plan to choose the passport option.
“I would use my passport instead,” she said while passing through Richmond International Airport last week. “I wouldn’t go through the trouble to get another ID.”
To receive a compliant driver’s license or ID card, Virginians must visit a DMV office in person to present proof of:
- identity and legal presence (present an unexpired U.S. passport or a U.S. birth certificate);
- Social Security (present a Social Security card or payroll check stub);
- residency in Virginia (two proofs required, which can include a utility bill and a mortgage statement, for example); and
- name changes (present a marriage certificate, if changes to last name).
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