REAL ID compliance still low among Minnesotans as deadline approaches

REAL ID takes effect on October 1, 2020.

When it comes to applying for REAL ID, Minnesotans are driving in the slow lane. The October 1 deadline is fast approaching.

In the past month, just 47,000 Minnesotans have applied for their REAL-ID driver’s licenses at DMV offices. Overall, there are only 500,000 people in Minnesota who are REAL-ID compliant.

“When you consider we have 4.2 million license holders in the State of Minnesota and you’re looking at 11 percent [compliance], that’s a very small percentage especially with the federal deadline looming later this year,” said Bruce Gordon with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Minnesota was late to the game. The Legislature’s delay in approving REAL ID means residents have had less time to comply. Wisconsin and Iowa are already in the fast lane with 40 percent of their drivers REAL ID compliant.

“It is of concern because we don’t want Minnesotans to be caught at the TSA checkpoint without the proper identification,” said Gordon. “Remember, this is a federal requirement and if you don’t have a REAL ID or an enhanced driver’s license or a passport or passport card, they’re not going to let you on plane.”  

When applying for REAL ID, be prepared to wait. As of January 2, the DMV was processing REAL ID applications submitted on November 6. That’s still almost a two-month wait.

There are a lot of documents and requirements for REAL ID. To ensure you have those documents, use the pre-application tool on the DMV website. It will save you plenty of frustration at the DMV office.

“The time that you take to enter the information online is time that you will save at a driver’s license agent office, it’s time well spent,” said Gordon. “And it will also help you make sure you have all the documents so that you don’t have to make a return trip to the driver’s license office.”