ST. PAUL—Minnesota driver's licenses — as they currently are today — won't work for boarding planes starting Oct. 10.
But there are options — some you might want to take right now, or at least consider, according to federal and state officials, who updated their information on the process this past week.
People renewing their driver's licenses between now and October should take notice.
This can seem confusing, so read carefully. Hopefully, this will help.
A federal law passed in 2005 — the REAL ID Act — forces states to change the way driver's licenses are done (more security) in order to board domestic airline flights. Minnesota's current deadline for compliance is Oct. 10, 2018. It's possible that deadline could be extended, but for now, it's an important date.
Before Oct. 10, nothing changes. But you still might want to act now. We'll get to that in a sec.
WHAT HAPPENS OCT. 10?
For driving, nothing. Your Minnesota license will be fine for driving anywhere, until it expires.
But for boarding a domestic flights, your standard driver's license won't work. Actually, you won't be able to get past security to the terminal. (International flights already require a passport.) The same standards will apply for entering nuclear power plants, military bases and many federal government installations (but not federal courthouses).
WHAT IDs WILL WORK?
There are more than a dozen forms of ID other than driver's licenses accepted by the federal Transportation Security Administration. A U.S. passport (or passport card) is the one that nearly every citizen can get.
Two different types of state IDs will also work. You can get these from Minnesota license bureaus issued by the Department of Public Safety's division of Driver and Vehicle Services, aka "the DMV." They are:
REAL ID: This is the new form of Minnesota driver's license (or ID card) that will get you onto planes and into federal installations. They won't be available until October. You can't pre-order a REAL ID, but you will be able to get one as soon as they become available, even if your current license isn't expiring soon. Any legal Minnesota resident can get the ID card. The REAL ID driver's license will replace your current driver's license.
Enhanced driver's license/enhanced ID card: These are available now. Minnesota is one of only a few states to offer them. They'll get you on planes and into federal installations, just like a REAL ID. They can also be used for land and sea border crossings with Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean nations, much like a passport card. Only the enhanced driver's license can be used to drive, and it will replace your current driver's license. But you must be a U.S. citizen to get either of these.
HOW DO I GET THESE?
To get a REAL ID or one of the enhanced cards, you'll have to go in person to a license bureau. You'll need more documentation than you do for a common driver's license. Again, you won't be able to get a REAL ID until October.
SCENARIOS: WHAT IF I ...
I don't plan to fly. Don't worry about any of this. Whenever your license expires, renew it. It will still be valid for driving and most other identification purposes.
I'm driving to Canada next summer. You'll need an enhanced ID or enhanced driver's license, U.S. passport, or U.S. passport card to get back into the United States. None of this has changed. REAL ID's won't be good enough.
My license is expiring before Oct. 10 but I want to be able to fly after Oct. 10. Here are your options:
•Renew your driver's license when it expires and wait until REAL IDs are available in October, and get one then. Yes, that will mean making an additional in-person trip to a license bureau. And you'll pay an additional fee of $2 to $6, but your REAL ID expiration date will be extended, so it'll basically be a wash in the long run. The actual cost of the REAL ID is the same as a standard driver's license ($25.25) or ID card ($19.25).
•Get an enhanced driver's driver's license when you go to renew your regular driver's license. Then you'll be set. This will cost an additional $15 on top of the $25.25 driver's license fee.
•Renew your standard driver's license before it expires and get a U.S. passport or passport card. Federal officials recommend expecting to wait six weeks before your passport is ready.
My license won't expire until after Oct. 10 but I want to be able to fly soon after. Similar to above — except you'll be able to get a REAL ID. Even though it'll feel like a premature trip to a license bureau and you'll pay an extra fee, you'll get an extension on your expiration date. Many folks will find this the best bet.
I'm planning to fly with a child. Don't worry about the kid. The passenger requirements we're talking about only apply to people 18 and older.
I'm in the U.S. illegally. You can't get any of these.