Those looking to renew their driver's licenses could get a little gold star for their efforts.
A new version of the standard driver’s license, known as the Real ID, features a gold star in the top right corner, denoting a higher security clearance at the federal level.
Having a Real ID will streamline getting through airport checkpoints and into federal buildings or military bases, Torre Jessup, the new commissioner of the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, said. It serves as a single form of identification.
“It’s a pretty simple process, essentially the same, with no additional cost for the Real ID,” said Jessup, a Winston-Salem native. “It requires one additional form of proof of residency to get it and the benefit to the public is it’s a higher security measure.”
A license is $5 in North Carolina.
Jessup was among a handful of public officials to apply for their Real IDs at the DMV on Silas Creek Parkway on Thursday.
He said it will help with ease of access to federal facilities and make the whole process more efficient.
“People should get their Real IDs now,” he said. “We don’t want to see individuals, at the last minute, not having the proper credentials, for example when they enter an airport and can’t get on that $1,000 flight.”
Real IDs are not yet mandatory in North Carolina, but are strongly encouraged, Jessup said.
Beginning in 2020, federal agencies will enforce tougher security standards at airport check-ins, federal facilities and military installations.
Those without a Real ID will still be able to board flights and enter federal facilities, but would need to provide a driver’s license or ID along with additional documentation, which would differ depending on the facility.
Patrice Bethea, a spokeswoman for the DMV, said the Real ID is a more secure and convenient form of identification.
“Basically it means that the state has verified you are who you say you are,” she said.
While the Real ID has a gold star in the top right corner of the driver’s license, those without it will have licenses that read “Not for federal identification” at the top in bold letters.
The program was born out of the Real ID Act of 2005, which had been recommended post-9/11 for federal standards on pieces of identification, like driver’s licenses.
“It functions as a driver’s license and enhanced security measure,” said Pat Ivey, the division engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation. “We’re trying to get the word out, as people get ready to renew their licenses.”
Those who opt to get the Real ID would need to bring documentation that proves their identity, date of birth, Social Security number, current North Carolina residency and lawful status.
The Real ID driver license cannot be completed online. People must bring the documents to their local DMV office for the original card, but the card can be renewed online, like a standard license.
“Don’t wait until the last minute to get a Real ID,” Jessup said. “It’s not required right now, but it’s a great idea.”