The state of Montana began issuing the REAL ID to its residents at the beginning of January, 2019. Those who are unfamiliar with the REAL ID may have some questions as to how it is different from a standard driver’s license, and why it is necessary. At MVD Express, we want all of our customers to feel confident and secure with their MVD services, which is why we’ve taken the time to answer some of your most frequently asked questions below.

If you don’t find the answers you’re looking for or you would like to learn more, contact MVD Express, or stop by our location in Billings!

Overview of the REAL ID


Q: What is REAL ID?

The REAL ID card is a result of the REAL ID Act, which focuses on the security and authentication of any state driver’s licenses and ID cards. This act was put into place in 2005 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a way to help keep U.S. citizens and their identities more secure.

Q: Do I need REAL ID?

Starting in October, 2020, the REAL ID will be a necessity for anyone who uses their driver’s license to board domestic flights and enter federal buildings or military bases. If you do not have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification, you will not be allowed to fly or enter federal buildings*.*All agencies are different, and some may accept a U.S. passport, military ID, or another form of federally approved identification.

Q: How do I know if my driver’s license is a REAL ID?

The easiest way to tell if your driver’s license or state ID card is REAL ID-compliant is to look for a yellow star symbol in the upper right-hand corner. If you do not have a star, then your ID is not REAL ID-compliant, and it will say “Not for Federal Identification Purposes” where the star should be.

Q: Can I still use a driver’s license that is not REAL ID-compliant?

Yes! If you do not have a REAL ID, you can still use your non-compliant driver’s license or ID card to board flights and enter federal buildings until September 30, 2020. On October 1, 2020, you will be required to present a REAL ID-compliant identification card, otherwise, you will need to provide an agency-approved alternative form of identification, such as a passport.

Where and When to Get a REAL ID


Q: Is there a deadline for when I need to get my REAL ID?

Yes. If you do not have a REAL ID, and you plan to fly or visit federal buildings after October 1, 2020, you will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification or another federally approved identification.

Q: Where can I get a REAL ID?

To obtain your REAL ID, you can visit a driver’s license station and receive your new form of identification as long as you present the correct documents, including MVD Express in Billings. You can also click here to see an interactive map to find a station near you.

REAL ID Alternatives


Q: Does Montana offer an alternative to the REAL ID?

The simple answer is yes, Montana does offer a standard driver’s license that is not REAL ID-compliant.

Some states give their residents the option of choosing an alternative to the REAL ID, often known as an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL). An EDL is equipped with a chipped credential that has access to an individual’s biometric and biographic data. At this time, the state of Montana has no plans to issue EDLs. If you make the decision to not apply for a REAL ID, then you will be issued a standard driver’s license or ID card with the words “Not for Federal Identification Purposes” on the upper right corner.

Required Documents


Q: What documents do I need to obtain a REAL ID?

There are a few types of documents that you will need to bring with you when you visit a driver’s license station to obtain your REAL ID. Because the REAL ID is made to be more secure than a standard driver’s license, you may need to provide more documents than you would if you were obtaining a standard license or ID card. The documents you will need are:

  • One document to prove your name, date of birth, and authorized presence
  • One document to prove your social security number
  • Two documents to prove your Montana residency
  • One document to prove your name change (if applicable)

To view a more detailed list of the accepted documents for each section, visit our REAL ID page!

Lawful and Legal Names


Q: What if my name has changed?

If you choose to use a document, such as a birth certificate, that does not list your current legal name, then you will need to provide a document proving your name change. Some of the acceptable documents include:

  • Certified marriage license
  • Certified certificate of marriage
  • Certified dissolution of marriage
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Court order granting a name change

If you have additional questions about obtaining the REAL ID, then please don’t hesitate to contact MVD Express. Our friendly staff is more than willing to answer your questions. You can also visit the official website for the Montana REAL ID to find even more information about this new form of identification.


Ready to get your REAL ID? Visit MVD Express in Billings to get started. We look forward to seeing you!