Newly Required Travel Compliant Driver's License for Arizona Residents

In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act, which was designed to set minimum security requirements for identifications used in airports, Federal Agencies, and nuclear power plants.  The Act was based on recommendations by the 9/11 Commission that the Federal Government set standards for sources of identification like drivers’ licenses.  On December 20, 2013, The Department of Homeland Security announced a phased enforcement plan for the Real ID law that allowed the states time to develop a new identification card that meets Federal requirements.

Unlike many other countries, the U.S. has never had any form of national ID card that can be used to verify identity throughout the nation.  We have always relied on the states issuing drivers’ licenses and identity cards.  While there are no plans to change and adopt a national ID card, the Real ID law will require state IDs to comply with the national standard.  Some states strongly resisted the Federal law, citing privacy issues and complaining that it was an unfunded mandate that would cost state governments millions to reach full compliance.  Many states were using software that was decades old and incapable of being modified to meet the new Federal standards. For example:  Massachusetts expects to spend $62 Million dollars to replace its 30-year-old software with a new system capable of issuing “smart IDs.” Homeland Security’s 2013 announcement of a phased timeline with concrete deadlines forced state governments to realize they would need to bite the bullet and comply.

Arizona residents have until October 1, 2020, to have a “travel ID” issued by MVD.  After that date, your current driver’s license will not be sufficient identification for you to board an airplane or enter a Federal office or facility.  You will still be able to use a current passport if you have one, but your current Arizona Drivers’ License will not get you past airport security.  Minors, under the age of 18, will not be required to have a travel ID so long as they are traveling with an adult.

What’s Different About the New ID?

The issue arose when the 9/11 terrorists boarded commercial airliners using fraudulent drivers’ licenses.  At the time, many state IDs and drivers’ licenses were easily forged.  Moreover, many states required very little proof of identity before licensing an applicant.  To comply with the Real ID program, state drivers’ licenses will need holograms and bar codes.  Biometric identification is also part of the ultimate goal.  On the surface, Arizona’s new “travel ID” looks very similar to your current driver’s license.  The only difference you will notice is a gold star in the upper right- hand corner.  The gold star signifies Real ID compliance.  

The new travel ID is voluntary.  Arizona residents are not required to get one.  The cost of the new ID is $25.  The travel ID is then good for 8 years.  Some people will choose to shy away from the idea of the travel ID.  They don’t travel and don’t have the need to enter Federal buildings.  Others fear being part of a national identification database.  You will still be able to use your old license to register to vote and to verify your identity during a credit card purchase.  The lack of a Real ID will not affect your right to apply for Federal benefits like Medicare or Social Security.

How Do I Apply?

You can go to www.servicearizona.com and set up an appointment at a Department of Motor Vehicles office.  However, to obtain the new license, you will need to provide more than your old drivers’ license.  You will need to bring at least one document that verifies your identity.  You can use a passport, immigration documents, or a birth certificate.  You must have documents containing your social security number.  You will also be required to have at least two documents that prove Arizona residency.  Utility bills, bank card statements and insurance documents will qualify. You can go online to the MVD website listed in “resources” at the end of this article for a full list of acceptable documents.  The new law means lots of people taking lots of documents to the local MVD office.  That means a visit to the Motor Vehicle Department is even more fun than it used to be.  












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