MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Anyone planning a getaway later this year may have to pack their patience first.

Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans have discovered there’s a long wait for REAL IDs.

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Officials with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Driver and Vehicle Services division say the state is processing REAL ID applications going back to Jan. 3. For the Enhanced ID, it’s Dec. 23.

REAL ID will be necessary for flying domestically, while Enhanced ID also allows people to travel to Canada or Mexico by land or water.

That’s on top of the teeth-gritting wait times people experience once they get to a DVS location.

“I was hoping it was only going to be an hour or two,” customer Michelle Lipetzky said.

“I got here and I expected it to be maybe an hour,” customer Sarah Montano said.

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Both went to the DVS location on Auto Club Way in St. Louis Park, and both waited about five hours as they attempted to get a REAL or Enhanced IDs.

“I had to go home and get another document to prove that I changed my name,” Montano said.

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“I didn’t have all the documentation that I needed. They’re very specific about what you need,” Lipetzky said.

DVS officials tell WCCO they’re averaging 19,000 REAL ID applications per week. And even after successfully finishing the application process, another round of waiting begins.

It takes at least eight weeks to get a REAL ID, which will be necessary to fly domestically come October. It’s 10 to 12 weeks for those getting an Enhanced ID. Montano got that one.

“It’s kind of a pain that I have to keep the paper [license] and everything, but it’s not surprising,” she said. “As long as they do it right, I don’t care.”

DVS officials said they’re working to reduce the delay through voluntary overtime and sharing the workload with other DVS staff.

If you don’t want to apply for a REAL ID, you can still fly domestically after Oct. 1 so long as you use a passport, Enhanced ID if you already have one, or tribal-issued photo ID.

After not bringing the correct documentation for the REAL ID application process, Lipetzky decided to get a standard driver’s license. She plans to use her passport to travel in the future.

“I don’t like carrying my passport, it is a hassle,” she said.

As of Feb. 13, DVS officials said 4,121,875 Minnesotans have a standard driver’s license or ID. But only 12.5% of that total are REAL or Enhanced ID card holders.

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You can also track your ID application online through DVS’s “Where’s My License” page.

Jeff Wagner