Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, June 7, 2024

Flyers beware: Deadline looms for getting Real ID

The final countdown is on for you to get your Real ID. No, really, they mean it this time.

As of May 7, 2025, The Department of Homeland Security will require travelers to show its new form of identification, Real ID, to fly within the United States. Requirements for the new license include not only proof of identity but also proof of U.S. citizenship.

The Department of Homeland Security announced in early May that it had extended implementation for an additional year; the deadline is expected to hold as all states and territories have now signed on.

The problem for Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security reports, is that 1.6 million Tennesseans have not yet obtained the new license.

While the new ID will also be required at federal facilities and nuclear plants, the change in domestic travel impacts a larger population; a passport or other acceptable alternative forms of identification can be used in place of a Real ID, but many U.S. citizens do not own a passport.

Passed by Congress in 2005 following a 9/11 Commission recommendation, the Real ID Act was meant to implement minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Wes Moster, director of communications for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, says his department is suggesting Tennesseans get on board sooner than later.

“The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security encourages citizens to avoid the potential influx of customers at driver Services Centers as the implementation date draws near,” Moster says.

Leslye Branscom of Mount Juliet did just that.

“I got mine back when they first announced it would be required, as I didn’t want to get caught up in the panic rush,” she says. “I still had a couple of years left before my old one expired, and it was just a small amount to technically get a duplicate. I took my current driver’s license plus my passport along with something that showed we received bills at our home. It was not a problem.”

Since 2005, several postponements for implementation due to opposition by some states, combined with government office closures and other effects of the COVID pandemic, have confused many.

Those who’ve gone through a name change after a marriage or a divorce, the required documentation such as a marriage license seems unwieldy or near impossible in the case of locating long-lost divorce decrees. Those who’ve been married more than once will certainly be in for some footwork. Says Holli Gammy, who says she used the Wilson County Clerk’s Office and went away without getting her ID.

“The Real ID is almost impossible to get if you don’t have a passport already,” Gammy says. “I needed my divorce decree because of a name change, but I have no way of getting this, either. It was so long ago and he’s deceased. They couldn’t find it at all, even in the archives … Now that the deadline is extended, I will have to get a regular passport just to be able to get the Real ID to travel. Also, if you’re married multiple times, you have to have all of your divorce decrees.”

Others apply only to find that another state is holding up the application for unknown reasons, which was the case for Red Robinson, who found out while at the DMV why he was not a candidate.

“I went to get mine, and they told me Florida had flagged mine for something; I have not had a ticket in Florida in over 25 years. So, I have to contact Florida and get a letter stating it isn’t me, but I can’t get anyone at the DMV in Florida to answer the phone,” Robinson says.

Branscom says getting a Real ID seemed like a sounder idea than using her passport and then possibly losing it. Duplicating a passport can be a complicated, time-consuming and sometimes costly endeavor.

“I didn’t want to have to take it if I was flying domestically,” Branscom says. “I would suggest people get the Real ID because you never know when you might have to fly for an emergency or if a special trip came up. I would do it sooner rather than later. As May 2025 approaches, the lines at the DMV will just get longer.

A Real ID is not required to vote, drive, have access to federal courts or to apply for benefits. The initial issuance cost is $28. Any U.S. Citizens who would like to opt out of getting the new ID can do that.

For a faster visit to a driver services center, applicants are encouraged to make an appointment ahead of their visit.

Sherrie Sampson, who travels both domestically and abroad several times a year, says the federal government is creating a problem when there is none, specifically after TSA has already tightened its rules on gate entrance after 9/11.

“They were looking for a problem we don’t have by creating a law that we don’t need because a large percentage of the people in every state has never traveled outside of their state. A Real ID is just proof of citizenship,” Sampson says.

The first application for the new license must be made in person at a driver services center or participating county clerk partner. Two proofs of residency, physical proof of full Social Security number and proof of U.S. citizenship are required for approval. TSA does not require children younger than 18 to provide identification when traveling within the United States.