The Real ID is not just a regular license. It's an identification card that meets added security requirements set by the federal government. 

"If you've had your driver's license for 40 years and you come in, we still will need your documents," said Marla Thompson, director at the Division of Motor Vehicles. "Because at that time we may or may not of required the same documents."

To travel, you will need a Real ID to get through airport security, unless you have a passport, starting Oct. 1, 2020. You will also need a Real ID to get onto military bases or any federal building. 

Two types of licenses

The DMV began issuing two types of licenses this spring. The Real ID has a star in the right hand corner and the non-compliant license states 'federal limits apply' in the upper right hand corner.

One year may seem like a far enough deadline to meet, but Thompson says it's really not. Next year, the DMV will be backed up with people applying and she suggests people plan ahead to get a new license.

Thompson says around 10% of Alaskans have already received a Real ID and about 39% of people going to the DMV are applying for one.

"We just hit 60,000 and so we have a little bit further to go," she said.

How to apply

To get a Real ID you will need to provide proof of your name, identity, date of birth, lawful status and show two documents proving your residency.

"Most importantly you'll need two proof of address, no P.O. Boxes," Thomspon said.

To prove your physical address you can use a utility bill, cell phone bill or insurance documents. If you own your home, you can use a mortgage document. If you rent, you can use a rental agreement with your landlord's signature. 

"You can't just walk in and say, 'I want to upgrade to the Real ID.' You actually need to produce documentation to prove you are who you say you are," Thomspon said.

The DMV provides a list of documents you're able to provide when getting a Real ID.

Thomspon says the process gets more complicated if you have changed your name and not updated your Social Security card.

"They would want to go to the Social Security office and provide the documentation to get a new card," Thompson said. "Mostly it's going to be a name change document or if it's a brand new name, than they may have to go to the passport agency and get that as well so that's going to the post office and start that process."

The DMV will need the paper trail, linking your name changes back to your original name given on your birth certificate or social security. That could be a marriage certificate or a court document proving your name change.

How to save time

You can make an appointment for the Anchorage, Palmer or Fairbanks DMV online. That's what Dave Chamberlain did at the Benson location in Anchorage.

"I did get an appointment online and I think it made it really good," Chamberlain said. "I'm pleased I didn't have to wait in line."

Chamberlain also checked the DMV's checklist online to make sure he had all the necessary documents and left the DMV with his Real ID within 20 minutes.

"Bring everything your mother gave you and your boss and the federal government," he said.

You can also use one of the DMV's business partners across the state to apply and they may have shorter wait times. 

If you have questions on whether you have all the necessary documents or about the process, there is an online guide to walk you through any hang-ups on the DMV website.

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