Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, federal government agencies will enforce the REAL ID Act, which requires a REAL ID card, U.S. passport or other approved identification to board commercial airline flights and enter military reservations. The North Carolina REAL ID is a driver’s license that is just like a traditional license or ID except that it has a gold star at the top right corner. Driver’s licenses and IDs without gold stars note, “Not for Federal Identification.”
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 law established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. North Carolina is in compliance.
The REAL ID is completely optional. You do not need an N.C. REAL ID driver’s license or identification card to do any of the following: drive, vote, apply for or receive federal benefits, visit a post office, access a hospital or receive life-saving services, participate in law enforcement or court proceedings or investigations. However, an N.C. REAL ID will be helpful for anyone who boards a commercial airplane or visits nuclear sites, military bases, federal courthouses or federal prisons.
A REAL ID does not permit direct access to Fort Bragg or other military installations — people still must get visitor passes — but it will save time getting a pass. At Fort Bragg, passes can be acquired at the All-American gate, or access control point, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visitor passes will be issued to all persons with valid reasons for entering the installation. A visitor pass can be issued for up to 90 days for nonDoD personnel. A security-vetting process will be completed for each individual before receiving a visitor pass. This includes all passengers in a vehicle.
Some people will need REAL ID sooner than others. Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune began requiring REAL ID or other forms of identification for access as of Jan. 22, Patrice Bethea, a spokeswoman for North Carolina DMV said. U.S. military identification cards, including those for active duty or retired military members and their dependents as well as DoD civilians, can be used instead of REAL ID.
To apply for a REAL ID card, North Carolinians must visit a DMV driver’s license office and provide a document that proves identity, such as a birth certificate, valid U.S. passport or immigration documents, proof of Social Security number, plus two documents that establish residency in North Carolina, such as a utility bill, vehicle registration card or bank statement. Applications cannot be made online.
One of the advantages of a REAL ID driver’s license is that it will provide certainty that the ID will be accepted. Bethea said waiting until the last minute won’t work. People who get a new license will receive it in the mail 15 days later.
Learn more and see a list of requirements at www.ncrealid.gov.