Months away from Real ID law going into effect, experts say ‘get it done now’

Come Oct. 1, the standard license will no longer be an acceptable form of identification for boarding a plane or entering a federal building. While we're still months away from that change going into effect, experts are advising people to get this taken care of now before you put it off and have to ...

BOSTON — Later this year, everyone in the state who uses a driver’s license to fly will have to get a Real ID.

Come Oct. 1, the standard license will no longer be an acceptable form of identification for boarding a plane or entering a federal building. While we’re still months away from that change going into effect, experts are advising people to get this taken care of now before you put it off and have to deal with long lines.

“I’m discouraged that in this country we have to go to this extent,” said Margaret Derian, of Dover.

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The idea behind implementing the Real ID at airport security checkpoints is to increase security for flyers.

It might feel like the date to get a Real ID has crept up on us, but, in fact, the Real ID Act was passed 15 years ago, on a recommendation from the 9/11 commission. Real IDs were created in an effort to make it harder for terrorists to obtain U.S. identification and have been available in Massachusetts since March 26, 2018.

“I would advise anyone who needs a Real ID who has not gotten one to this point to certainly think about doing so because we expect to get busier as the deadline approaches October 1st,” said Mary Maguire, a spokesperson for Triple A Northeast.

A MassDOT spokesperson says wait times at DMV registries are likely to get worse in the summer.

In order to get a Massachusetts Real ID, drivers need to go any branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles and present the following documents:

1. Social Security Card OR document with your social security number;

2. A document proving US Citizenship OR lawful presence, such as a passport

3. 2 documents proving MA residency such as a bank statement and utility bill.

An alternative to paying a visit to the DMV is going to any Triple A service center - if you’re a member.

At Triple A, the advice is to go early in the morning, but at the DMV lines are expected to be lighter midday.

The main distinguishing feature between standard IDs and the Real ID is a small star in the upper-right hand corner that indicates federal compliance.

“I thought there was a little confusion and if anybody thought they might have to have two cards,” said Derian.

If your license is still valid, you don’t need to get a Real ID - but then that means you’ll have to use other documents such as your passport to board flights or to enter any federal building. According to the TSA, there are 15 alternatives to the Real ID that can get you through airport security, such as passports, permanent resident cards, DHS trusted traveler cards, etc.

Many, however, oppose the Real ID due to the biometrics needed to apply for one. Images used for the Real ID have to be compliant with the International Biometric Format standard, which allows the use of facial recognition technology and global information sharing.

Once you have your Real ID, your picture will be uploaded into a searchable federal database that allows for record-sharing, which means law enforcement in different states will have access to your data. Critics have long argued that biometric scans are cause for constitutional concerns as they violate privacy laws.

At least 750 million Americans fit into the categories where they will need a Real ID. If you feel like you might someday need a Real ID, you probably do.