Looking to escape Iowa’s chilling winds and throng of presidential contenders with some refreshing out-of-state travel?
For those who plan on flying, the clock is ticking for them to get their driver’s license upgraded.
When the calendar flips over to Oct. 1, 2020, Iowans will need a Real ID — marked with a gold star to indicate that the holder has undergone additional steps to verify their identity — if they want to fly on a commercial airplane.
The upgraded licenses also will be necessary for those looking to enter a federal facility, like a courthouse or military base, or a nuclear power plant.
Older IDs still will suffice for driving a car, purchasing age-regulated products, like alcohol and cigarettes, and gambling at Iowa casinos.
Travelers also can use their military IDs or passports in accessing the same flights and facilities that they can with a Real ID.
More than 1 million Iowa residents have upgraded their licenses so far.
The Iowa Department of Transportation has issued 1,044,851 Real IDs as of Dec. 17, or to 40.64 percent of the state’s 2,570,981 total licensees, the most recent agency data shows.
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That percentage represents a small increase from the 36 percent of Iowans who obtained Real IDs as of late September 2019. The state Department of Transportation began issuing them in 2013.
Since October, the department has observed an average weekly adoption rate of 72 percent for the upgraded licenses, said Darcy Doty, its director for driver and identification services.
Doty said the Iowa Department of Transportation hopes to ensure that all Iowans who will need Real IDs are aware of the 2020 deadline and what steps they’ll need to undertake for the transition.
“We know there will be Iowans who may never fly and will not need to enter into federal facilities, but our message to Iowans is to make sure, if they think they’ll need (a Real ID), to get in before that Oct. 1 date.”
Doty added that Real IDs still will be issued after Oct. 1, but those without at that point are likely to face difficulties during airport travel.
“It’s up to (the Transportation Security Administration) to determine how they want to handle that, but what we’re hearing and their public messaging is that they will not allow an individual (without a Real ID) on an airplane,” she said.
As part of a public awareness campaign, the state Department of Transportation has promoted Real IDs at Des Moines International Airport and other regional hubs, including The Eastern Iowa Airport, and put inserts in vehicle renewal notification mailings.
The department also has designated an “official spokes sloth,” Clyde, to educate Iowans about Real ID at professional and college sporting events, with a planned appearance at the Drake Relays this April.
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Separately, Pam Hinman, spokeswoman for The Eastern Iowa Airport, said she has observed TSA officials extend reminders to passengers in need of an upgrade.
“When you go through our security checkpoints and they check your ID. If you don’t have Real ID, they let you know that the rule, as of right now, is Oct. 1, 2020,” she said.
Residents can change to a Real ID when renewing their driver’s license for free, while if their license is not up for renewal, a replacement card will cost $10.
The Real IDs are issued at the Iowa Department of Transportation’s driver’s license service centers across the state.
Before it will issue a Real ID, IDOT must see documents that prove:
• Identity, such as a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, employment authorization document, permanent resident card or foreign passport with an approved form I-94.
• Social Security number, such as an Social Security card, W-2, or pay stub with full number.
• Residency, such as a rental or lease agreement, mortgage bill, utility bill or employment, medical or school document.
• An original or certified copy of a name change document, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree, may be required.
Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses, per a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission. Iowa has received extensions on complying with the act since 2012, when it adopted the federal system in September 2012.
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