6 Quick Tips On REAL ID

We regularly get questions from our customers in Billings about the need for REAL ID. It’s a complicated issue, for sure, but our team is happy to help you understand how you’ll benefit from REAL ID, what you need to get yours, and what possible alternatives you have to the program.

Have questions on REAL ID? Get more in-depth answers on our REAL ID FAQs page.

1 – Faster Airport Security

One major goal of the REAL ID Act of 2005 was to create a more secure, streamlined experience for domestic flights. If you’ve ever spent hours in airport security checkpoint lines, you can attest that there the need for this is very real.

With REAL ID, passengers can use any state’s driver’s license or state-issued ID that is REAL ID-compliant to quickly pass through security checkpoints. Without this unifying system, airport security lines are slowed as TSA agents have to cross-reference multiple types of IDs by state, type, and more.

What does this mean for you? If you have a REAL ID, you’re set! Check for a star icon in the top right of your ID to see if you already have one. If you do not yet, you have through 9/30/21 to gain your REAL ID before it is required to board domestic flights. After that time, you will need additional documentation to pass through airport security.

2 – Enter Federal Buildings

Many federal agencies and buildings will require REAL ID or other federal identification to enter the premises after the 9/30/21 deadline. While you can still obtain a REAL ID after that time, you will need to double-check with any federal building or agency you plan to visit to ensure you have a suitable alternative to REAL ID to enter the facility. This can be tricky, as standard-issue driver’s licenses will still be issued and honored by Montana after through and after the REAL ID deadline, so you cannot assume you’ll become compliant automatically.

3 – Visit Military Bases

Active duty military personnel will be able to rely upon their military ID to come-and-go, but civilian access will typically require a REAL ID or other acceptable federal identification. As mentioned above, it is important to understand if your identification will be acceptable by the base in question before you arrive, so be sure to research or ask their security in advance.

4 – Prepare Your Documents

If you’re looking to get your first REAL ID, there are some extra documents you’ll need to provide the motor vehicle services representative at the time of renewal. These are more stringent than a typical Montana license renewal, so be advised that a bit more information may be necessary to issue the REAL ID.

You can reference the REAL ID necessary documentation requirements here. One thing to watch out for is that everyone will need at least one document from Lists A, B, and C, and anyone that has had a legal name change will also need a document from List D.

As long as you bring these documents with you, our team in Billings can help you get your REAL ID taken care of quickly and easily. Once you have a REAL ID license or state ID, future renewals will go back to normal requirements.

5 – Know the Deadline

Understanding the May 3rd, 2023 deadline is an important aspect of REAL ID. Until this time, you can board domestic flights and enter federal buildings as has always been the case. So, if you’re using those services now without a REAL ID, it is important to consider that the access you’ve enjoyed could become more difficult next year.

Also, the deadline itself is a little misleading. While a REAL ID will be required by federal services, such as TSA or federal building security checkpoints, the state of Montana will still honor and issue standard IDs for those that prefer them. Additionally, you can still obtain a REAL ID after the May 3rd, 2023 REAL ID deadline.

6 – Understand Your Options

As mentioned, there are alternatives to a REAL ID. You can still obtain and maintain a standard driver’s license or state ID in Montana. Additionally, our motor vehicle services will still be available to help with obtaining a REAL ID down the road, should you need one.

While not obtaining a REAL ID is certainly an option, we typically recommend most residents obtain this new identification for the convenience of quickly boarding flights or entering federal buildings, but it is ultimately up to you to decide what is best for your situation.

We’re Here to Help

You can count on the team at MVD Express in Billings to answer any questions you may have or get your REAL ID taken care of well before the deadline. Don’t wait to get in touch with us, we’re happy to help!

Contact us today for any questions, including current wait times.