Clock ticking on Missouri residents to get REAL ID

ST. LOUIS – Beginning in October 2020, about a year from now, if you’re traveling through St. Louis Lambert International Airport, or any other in the nation, without a “REAL ID,” chances are you will not be allowed on your plane.   And if you hold a Missouri driver’s license, you probably do not have the proper ID right now.  

The REAL ID Act,  passed in 2005, is a federal law that focuses on anti-terrorism, driver’s license and ID card security. 

“We estimate, at [the Transportation Security Administration], that across the country as many as one million people a day will show up to checkpoints starting Oct. 1, 2020, and not have a proper identification,” said Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokesperson.

Although enforcement of the REAL ID requirements won’t begin for another year, TSA officials are urging travelers not to wait until the last minute to make a visit to a state licensing office.

“If we can’t ascertain your true identity, you will not fly,” Koshetz warned. “Don’t be the person who shows up at the checkpoint with a non-refundable ticket, a non-refundable vacation and you cannot get on your flight.”

When applying for a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card, residents must present valid, original documents demonstrating proof of the following: their identity, lawful status in the United States, Social Security Number and proof of Missouri residency.

Copies of any of those documents will not be accepted.

Over the past six months the Missouri Department of Revenue has issued nearly 300,000 REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards. 

Under Missouri state law, applying for this new form of ID is optional. Travelers who already have a passport, passport card, military ID or a Transportation Worker Identification Credential card will not need a REAL ID to board a commercial flight.

But if you’re someone who flies domestically and you don’t have a military ID or passport, REAL ID may be for you.

“If you choose not to get one, you must provide another form of identification to TSA to fly domestically,” said Ken Zellers, Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Revenue.

And according to TSA officials, at least 71 percent of the people across the state of Missouri do not own a passport.

For residents who worry that they may not be able to afford a REAL ID and the licensing fees that come along with it, a waiver is available.

“[The] state allows a one-time waiver of the duplicate transaction fee for persons who have not been issued a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card,” Zellers said.

“License office processing fees, however, will not be waived and are $6 for a three-year issuance or $12 for a six-year issuance,” he explained.

Because licensing offices operate as independent contractors under Missouri state law, issuance fees cannot be waived.

If you’re wondering how you will be able to tell if you’re in compliance, a REAL ID will have a star in the upper right-hand corner. New non-compliant identification cards will have “not for REAL ID purposes” printed on them.

For more information about applying for a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, including a list of the proper documents you’ll need for a trip to the state licensing office, visit the REAL ID information page on the Missouri Department of Revenue’s website.  

Bria Gremillion

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