Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Real ID Now Available from Virginia’s DMV

By Tom Clinton

Have you heard about the VA DMV’s Real ID driver’s license or Real ID card?

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is now issuing a more secure license called a Real ID driver’s license, but many people are not aware of this option, and how it might affect them. It’s a result of the Real ID Act which is a federal law passed by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The act affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be accepted for federal purposes, such as boarding domestic flights, entering secure military bases or visiting federal government buildings that require an ID. The law is intended to prevent identity fraud and applicants are required to provide proof of identity and legal U.S. residency to obtain the new ID.

The Real ID is optional. You can get either a Real ID driver’s license or ID card, and those will be identified by a star in the upper right hand corner, or you can get a standard driver’s license or ID, and it will say in the upper right hand corner “Federal Limits Apply”. In full disclosure, I am not a DMV employee, and I haven’t been formally trained in Real ID credentials.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, you will need to have the Real ID driver’s license to fly domestically, go into federal government buildings or onto U.S. military bases or you’ll need to have a regular driver’s license and a second form of federally approved form of identification, which for most people, would be a current U.S. passport, or a U.S. passport card. There are many other forms of IDs and clearances that could be used instead of a U.S. passport, such as DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST), a U.S. military ID (active duty, retired military, dependents and DoD civilians), a foreign government-issued passport, a Canadian driver’s license among others.

Virginia began issuing the new Real ID licenses on Oct. 1, 2018 and is working to replace as many as 2.7 million driver’s licenses before Oct. 1, 2020. The large undertaking has resulted in longer lines and wait times at its DMV Offices. As of late May, Virginia had issued about 365,000 Real IDs.

Officials say the important part of making the process more efficient is to come to the DMV prepared and have all the proper documents with you. You cannot apply for the Real ID credentials on-line, they must be applied for only in-person at one of the DMV offices or mobile locations. The documents that you submit are scanned and sent to Richmond for processing. To get more details about what you need to bring, go to the VA DMV website www.dmvnow.com. You can call the DMV at (804) 497-7100.

Documents required include one proof of identity, one proof of your full Social Security number and two proofs of residency. One of the two proofs of residency can be your Virginia driver’s license if your address is current. A U.S. birth certificate or valid U.S. passport can be used as proof of identity. You can provide your Social Security card or a W-2, SSA-1099 or a payroll stub to prove a Social Security number, if you can’t locate your actual Social Security card. Proof of residency can be established with documents such as a deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, bank statement, utility bill (less than three months old and issued to the applicant, cell phone bills are not accepted), voter registration card, a residential lease, or mail from a federal, state or local government agency, such as a real estate bill or a car tax bill.

Do you know that the Virginia DMV visits Falls Church City at the City Hall building, located at 300 Park Avenue, five times a month via two different service options, and that you can get your Real ID driver’s license or ID card right here? The first type of DMV service that visits City Hall four consecutive times a month is called the DMV Connect service (Aug. 12 – 15 are the next dates). The service is now regularly located in the Laurel Meeting Room, inside of the recently renovated City Hall building, on the LC level. The DMV Connect service is here the second Monday through Thursday of the month from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

I also host the popular DMV2Go Mobile Unit on the second Friday of every month; it’s located in front of City Hall from 9 a.m. –4 p.m. (Aug. 9 is the next visit). The DMV2Go Bus is a full-service handicapped accessible DMV Office on wheels. If you have an eligible child, they can take their Learner’s Permit test on the DMV2Go Bus, testing stops at 3:30 p.m. Need a schedule of 2019 DMV dates, or more information? We have DMV handouts in the Commissioner’s Office, or you can call 703-248-5450 or email us at: commissioner@fallschurchva.gov. Now go get Real!

Tom Clinton is the Commissioner of the Revenue for the City of Falls Church.