REAL ID: what is it and do I need it?

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY, P.A. (WTRF) – If you have domestic airline travel plans on or after October 1, 2020, you will need a REAL ID.

Your regular drivers license will no longer be enough to board an airplane. It is not mandatory, but obtaining a REAL ID is the only way you will be able to go through TSA and have access to any federal facilities.

Vince Gastgeb, the Vice President of Government and Corporate Affairs at the Pittsburgh International Airport, told 7News “we’re concerned as an airport sometimes you don’t realize you are going to fly, it could be a funeral, could be a wedding, maybe a job interview out of town that you never thought you’d have to do, you come to the airport and our biggest fear is you can’t get through TSA.”

REAL ID is a federally compliant program that came into existence 15 years ago.

Gastgeb added “as a result of September 11th, 2001, the hijackers were able to forge IDs to gain entry and I think that whole process from that date, that terrible date that happened in our history, to now this was used as a way to make sure that there is a standardized ID.”

Passports, federal or military IDs, global entry cards, and state issued REAL ID drivers licenses are all REAL IDs.

Gastgeb included “there really are no contingency plans that the federal government has in place to try to get those people through the security checkpoint, you have to have a REAL ID compliant type of ID so we’re working that out now, we know that complaints are going to happen and we have nothing to do with any of the rules.”

The DMV is the only place capable of distributing state issued REAL ID drivers licenses. But, keep in mind, not all DMVs can print out a state issued REAL ID drivers license on the spot, and they may have to mail it to you. But, there may be certain DMV centers designated in your state for printing out a REAL ID. It may cost a little bit more, but a star on your drivers license will indicate that you have gone through the REAL ID verification process.

Jim Garrity, Public and Legislative Affairs Manager for AAA East Central, said “probably the most labor intensive part of the whole process of obtaining a REAL ID compliant piece of identification is going to be making sure you have all of the documents together.”

Each state has their own criteria and the best advice is to go online to your state’s DMV website to see exactly what documents you will need for your state, or go directly into the DMV for more information.

Garrity added “a lot of people are going to think to themselves ‘well, I’ll get to it next month or the month after’ and they may not have the documents sitting around so they’re going to need replacement documents and then as we get closer to that October 1st deadline the lines at the DMV offices and at the offices that are distributing these identifications are going to get longer.”

Again, the deadline for needing a REAL ID is October 1st, 2020.

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