LUMBERTON — Applying for a new form of identification that soon will make it easier to enter federal facilities and to board commercial airplanes was “painless,” Grady Hunt said.
Hunt, an at-large member of the North Carolina Board of Transportation for Division 6, spent 15 minutes of his Monday morning applying for an N.C. REAL ID card at the state Division of Motor Vehicles office on Kahn Drive in Lumberton. The card will grant visitors easier access to federal facilities ranging from courthouses to military installations. Airline passengers also will have the option of presenting a REAL ID, rather than showing multiple forms of identification.
Possession of an N.C. REAL ID driver’s license or ID card is not mandatory, according to the state DMV website.
“In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver licenses and IDs to help prevent fraudulent identification,” the website reads in part. “On Oct. 1, 2020, the Transportation Security Administration will begin enforcing REAL ID requirements at airport security checkpoints. Federal agencies will also begin requiring REAL ID-compliant licenses and IDs for admission to a variety of federal facilities.”
North Carolina residents should obtain their cards as soon as possible, Hunt said.
“If you think about all of the licensed drivers in Robeson County alone, if you wait until you have to do it, can you imagine the throng of folks that will be here?” Hunt said.
Visitors to Fort Bragg will be the first to be confronted by the new requirement. Effective Jan. 22 all visitors to the military base will need to have the REAL ID, or be able to present additional forms of identification.
The new card will not be required for air travel until 2020. But, starting Jan. 22 customers who possess a license from a state not in compliance with the REAL ID Act will need to bring alternative forms of identification in order to board their flights.
The REAL ID looks similar to and serves the same purpose as a standard driver’s license and costs the same amount, about $5 a year. A gold star on the top right corner of the REAL ID card distinguishes it from other licenses.
In order to apply for a REAL ID, a person must provide documents that prove identity and date of birth, that the applicant has a Social Security number, current North Carolina residency, and lawful residency status. An applicant can expect to receive the N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card by mail in 10 to 15 business days after applying.
“I actually brought four utility bills, making sure that I was going to be OK,” Hunt said with a smile.
Individuals who choose not to obtain a REAL ID when they renew their license can still go forward with the process, but their new card will be labeled to indicate it is not for federal identification. The documents those individuals will need in order to access federal facilities will vary. They will need to contact the facility in advance to learn what forms of identification are needed.
“What’s important is to get out the word for folks to know that at some point it (REAL ID) is something that’s mandatory, that you have to have,” Hunt said.
Reach Brandon Tester at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tester_Brandon.