MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you’re thinking about getting the REAL ID, you might have heard some horror stories.

On a Friday afternoon at the Anoka County License Center, several people needed to make two trips before bringing in the proper documents for REAL ID. The staff at License Center doesn’t keep statistics on how often this happens, but estimates it could be about 40-percent of the time.

One man didn’t have a physical copy of a utility bill. Another man didn’t know he needed a passport, birth certificate or something confirming his identity. A third woman’s paystub didn’t have her company’s address and phone number.

“I feel bad when I have to send them home for more documents,” says License Center Specialist Valerie Gust, “I make sure they have what they need to come back with and make it as easy as possible.”

Here is the documentation required for applying for a REAL ID. It’s at least four different official documents.

1. One document proving identity, date of birth and legal presence in the U.S. (Ex. Birth certificate, passport, permanent resident card, certificate of citizenship)

2. One document proving Social Security number (Ex. Social Security card, W-2 form, 1099)

3. Two documents proving current Minnesota residency (Ex. Unexpired MN driver’s license, utility bill, credit card statement, income tax return)

So, what are the biggest mistakes people are making with their REAL ID application documentation?

“The biggest things are those name change documents,” Gust said.

If the legal names on all of the documents don’t match your current legal name, an official marriage certificate (and, if necessary, a divorce decree) are required.

Gust says she also sees problems with people’s utility bills. Often, they’re in the partner’s name, rather than the applicant. Sometimes, the applicant moved to digital copies and don’t have physical ones. Utility bills also can’t be older than 90 days. The name and address on the hard copy must match the current name and residence.

Gust recommends people print out their bills and bring it to the License Center, so they can be scanned into the system.

Some other mistakes: People bring in laminated copies of documents, which aren’t allowed. Social Security cards must be official and not the perforated paperwork that surrounds the card. Birth certificates also have to be official.

“Anything with feet, that doesn’t count,” Gust says.

So, what is Gust’s recommendation on having all the right paperwork on the first try?

“If they pre-register online, that is really the key,” she says. “It walks them through the documents and they have to put the dates in there.”

To pre-register, visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website.

Heather Brown

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