Earlier this year, Governor McAuliffe announced that Virginia would proceed with implementing REAL ID in 2017. Federal law requires state identification to be compliant with REAL ID in order to enter federal facilities (June 22) or board airline flights (January 22, 2018).
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted Virginia an extension concerning REAL ID enforcement until October 10, 2017. At this point, that is the latest date DHS is willing to grant extensions however, DHS has indicated that they will consider further extensions closer to the October 2017 deadline.
There have been privacy concerns about REAL ID in the past, and the General Assembly will take steps to protect the privacy and security of Virginians. In 2009, the General Assembly passed legislation that prohibits Virginia from complying with any provision of REAL ID that threatens the privacy or security of Virginians.
The General Assembly will evaluate the governor’s proposed budget, including his proposed fee increases, in January 2018. House Republicans have been very wary of unnecessary fee increases proposed by the Governor's office.
REAL ID BACKGROUND
The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.”
The Act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting, for certain purposes, driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft. States and other jurisdictions have made significant progress in enhancing the security of their licenses over the last number of years.
As a result, approximately 90% of all U.S. drivers hold licenses from jurisdictions that have either (1) been determined to meet the Act’s standards; or (2) have received extensions from DHS. Individuals holding driver’s licenses or identification cards from these jurisdiction may continue to use them as before.
Starting January 22, 2018, passengers who have driver’s licenses issued by a state that is not yet compliant with REAL ID and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Please see TSA’s website for a list of acceptable forms of identification. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state that is compliant or that has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual.
Since REAL ID was passed by Congress in 2005, the federal government has granted exemptions to certain states as part of a phased-in enforcement process. Virginia’s current extension ends October 10, 2017. Without further extensions, beginning October 10th Virginians wouldn’t be able to use their driver’s licenses or ID cards to enter federal facilities and beginning on January 22, 2018, Virginians would be unable to use their state identification to board domestic flights.
For several years, Virginia has sought an alternative implementation plan to comply with REAL ID. The federal government denied a Virginia plan in 2015 and another plan against this year. On March 31st DHS rejected a request for a further extension. The federal government has indicated it is no longer willing to offer long-term extensions.
Governor McAuliffe’s introduced biennial budget, as well as the caboose bill, will include language authorizing a $10 fee, in addition to all other fees owed, on the “REAL ID”. This means that a renewed compliant 8-year driver’s license will cost $42 – the typical $32 fee plus the $10 compliant charge. The budgets would also authorize a line of credit to be repaid through the new fees, since DMV will not have sufficient cash reserves to incur costs before the new revenue stream begins. In total, DMV is estimating costs of $20.7 million over a two-year implementation period.
DMV Commissioner, Robert Holcomb stated in a May email to the General Assembly members "Beginning October 1, 2020, DHS will require all Americans use a federally approved credential in order to access federal facilities and to board domestic flights in the United States, as part of the REAL ID Act of 2005. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) intends to implement REAL ID by continuing to issue our standard Virginia credentials, while offering customers a choice of getting a credential which will meet the REAL ID requirements and be accepted as identification for domestic flights and access to federal facilities. DMV will begin issuing REAL ID credentials on October 1, 2018. This will give Virginians two years to apply for the optional REAL ID credential before DHS’ final October 2020 deadline."
There has been some controversy surrounding the REAL ID program. Many civil rights and privacy groups have opposed the program on the grounds that it violated privacy, constituted a national identification card system, or that it was an unconstitutional violation of the 10th Amendment.
The Department of Homeland Security says “REAL ID is a national set of standards, not a national identification card. REAL ID does not create a federal database of driver license information. Each jurisdiction continues to issue its own unique license, maintains its own records, and controls who gets access to those records and under what circumstances. The purpose of REAL ID is to make our identity documents more consistent and secure.”
REAL ID FAQs
What is REAL ID?
Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act established requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet the requirements.
What is Virginia’s current status with REAL ID implementation?
On June 14, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted Virginia a REAL ID extension until October 10, 2017. This means that DHS has recognized that Virginia is diligently working towards implementing all REAL ID requirements and means that Virginians may continue to use their Virginia driver’s license or ID card to enter federal facilities and to board airplanes. Virginia will apply for additional extensions as necessary.
What are the benefits of having a REAL ID compliant license or ID card?
Holders of licenses and ID cards that meet federal requirements will be able to use their Virginia DMV-issued credentials as identification to access federal buildings, including military installations, and board domestic flights.
Do I have to get a REAL ID compliant license or ID card when I renew my credential?
No, obtaining a REAL ID compliant license or ID card when you renew will be voluntary. Beginning October 2018, current Virginia driver’s license and identification card holders will be able to choose at renewal whether they would like a REAL ID compliant credential or a standard Virginia credential. If a customer chooses not to apply for a REAL ID compliant credential, the customer’s renewal process will remain the same as in previous years.
How do I apply for a REAL ID compliant license or ID card?
The process is similar to Virginia’s current driver’s license/ID card application process, except additional documents are needed. All applicants for a REAL ID compliant credential, including current Virginia credential holders, must apply in-person and provide DMV with physical documentation of:
• Identity; (e.g. Unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate)
• Legal Presence; (e.g. Unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate)
• Social Security Number; and (e.g. Social Security card or state/payroll check stub)
• Residency (two proofs will be required). (e.g. utility bills or mortgage statements)
What does a REAL ID compliant license/ID card look like?
REAL ID compliant licenses and ID cards will look the same as today’s cards except they will have a black star in the top right corner of the credential, while non-compliant licenses and ID cards will state “Not for federal purposes” on the face of the card.
When should I apply for a REAL ID compliant license or ID card?
DMV will start issuing the new licenses and ID cards on October 1, 2018. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not start enforcing REAL ID for domestic air travel until October 2020. For individuals who travel or access federal facilities often, DMV suggests applying for a new REAL ID license or ID card before October 2020.
Is a REAL ID compliant license or ID card necessary to get into every federal facility?
No. REAL ID does not apply to the following:
• Entering federal facilities such as museums that do not require a person to present identification;
• Applying for or receiving federal benefits;
• Accessing health or life preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings); and
• Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations.
It also is not required to vote or register to vote or to be licensed by a state to drive.
If I do not have a REAL ID compliant credential, what can I use to board a domestic air flight after October 1, 2020?
The Transportation Security Authority indicates that it will accept the following identification documents:
• U.S. passport
• U.S. passport card
• DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
• U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
• Permanent resident card
• Border crossing card
• Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
• Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
• HSPD-12 PIV card
• Foreign government-issued passport
• Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
• Transportation worker identification credential
• U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
• U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
If I do not have a REAL ID compliant credential, what can I use to enter a federal facility after October 1, 2020?
DHS has not released an approved documents list for entrance into federal facilities. Many federal facilities, such as military bases, may have control over acceptable identification documents for entrance. If you are looking to enter a specific facility, DMV suggests contacting that facility directly.
What does this really mean for citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia?
Bottom line: Everything remains the same until October 1, 2020. Until then, Virginians can continue to use their current Virginia issued credentials to board domestic air flights and enter federal facilities. After October 1, 2020, DHS will require everyone using a state-issued driver’s license or ID card for identification to board a domestic flight or enter a federal facility to have a REAL ID compliant credential, which Virginia will begin issuing on October 1, 2018.