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Virginians have less than a year to get REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, Virginia residents who travel domestically or regularly visit secure federal facilities will need this new form of identification.

virginia driver's license
Photo courtesy of Virginia DMV

The requirements for flying in and out of Virginia are changing next fall, giving local residents just under 11 months to decide if they should trade in their current license for one with a black star in the top right corner. 

While the change goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2020, the announcement is not new, as the United States Congress enacted the Real ID Act to enhance security standards and combat terrorism in the country in 2005. The star in the right-hand corner of these new licenses signifies that the license is REAL ID-compliant, enabling travel within the U.S. and entrance to some federal facilities, such as military bases. 

As the deadline approaches, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is encouraging residents to visit their local DMV far in advance of the Oct. 1 deadline, as the organization is expecting an influx of people next summer and fall. 

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“We’ve added staff, renovated our offices and expanded our mobile operations in order to better serve our customers,” says Media Liaison of the Virginia DMV Brandy Brubaker. “We’re also trying to get the word out to as many Virginians as we can reach. REAL ID is optional in Virginia. You get to decide if it is right for you.”

When the change goes into effect, those who have a valid passport can use that for flying domestically; however, if you don’t want to carry your passport around with you or simply don’t have one, then you should consider changing to a REAL ID, according to Brubaker. 

As of last month, the Virginia DMV had issued over 700,000 REAL ID-compliant driver’s licences, yet there are still millions of residents who need to make the change prior to fall of 2020. 

Interested in getting this form of identification sooner than later? Here’s what you need to bring with you to your local DMV, according to Brubaker:

  • Birth certificate or valid passport to prove both identity and legal presence
  • Social security number
  • Two proofs of Virginia residency (current unexpired driver’s license, Virginia voter registration, current housing lease) 

Also note there is a one-time $10 surcharge in addition to standard fees to get the new license. For more information on the REAL ID-compliant licenses, visit the Virginia DMV website.

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