By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many Minnesotans have a lot of questions now that the REAL ID bill has passed in Minnesota.

People are wondering if they have to get a REAL ID, and if they do, when’s the deadline? Also, what if they just renewed their license?

Before the bill was passed, Minnesota travelers had to prepare to bring their passport with them if they were going to travel around the country in January of 2018, but we don’t need to worry about that anymore.

Here are the key dates you need to remember:

August 2018 — That is when lawmakers expect REAL ID to be made available.
October 2020 — That is when lawmakers say you will need your passport to travel around the country if you don’t have a REAL ID. Your current driver’s license is still good at airports until this date.

Rep. Dennis Smith (R-Maple Grove) authored the bill.

“Over the next 15 months, you’ll see a lot of information on the Department of Public Safety’s website about license renewal and the options,” he said

Speaking of renewal – what if someone’s current license expires just weeks before REAL ID starts next August? they have to renew their license at full price, twice?

“We’ve set up for people, accommodated, to have a recent renewal, where they will just need to pay a couple of additional dollars and then they’ll be able to have that five year renewal process,” Smith said. “So you’ll be on the same cycle you were on before with just minimal additional costs.”

Rep. Smith says he’s glad that it gives Minnesotans the option of having a REAL ID, non-compliant ID or the enhanced ID, but there’s one specifically he suggests.

“The simplest thing is to have a REAL ID. I believe that’s the simplest thing,” he said. “It’s going to get you access to everything you need to do, to fly, get in any building if you need to, that type of thing.”

The enhanced ID allows you to fly domestically even after October 2020. However, it does not grant you access to federal buildings or military bases like a REAL ID or non-compliant ID.

The REAL ID will be nearly identical to the current Minnesota driver’s license, just with a marking to identify it.

Jeff Wagner