If you haven’t already made the switch to a new REAL ID license in South Carolina, the clock is ticking. Beginning in October 2020, your standard state-issued ID or license will not be sufficient to board a plane, enter a secure federal building or visit a military installation.

One bag of litter at a time

The new REAL ID card puts South Carolina in compliance with the REAL ID Act, a 2005 federal law enacted for extra security following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The law was passed as officials realized one of our nation’s biggest security gaps was state-issued driver’s licenses -- used to board planes. Members of the 9/11 Commission saw the need to develop a single, uniform identification system – but without the federal government taking over from the states with driver’s licenses -- making licenses harder for bad actors to replicate. There should be additional levels of identity verification at the state and federal level to make sure each applicant for an ID or license is a law-abiding citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

Drive like you want to keep living

Amid fears of a national ID system with personal information being shared, South Carolina fought the federal mandate to the point of the state Legislature passing a law forbidding South Carolina agencies from developing a REAL ID. A decade later and after extensions, South Carolina ended its losing battle.

Gov. Henry McMaster in 2017 ordered that the state comply with REAL ID, with driver’s licenses and identification cards meeting the federal standard. Not long after, SCDMV started accepting identity documents for people interested in purchasing the new style of license or ID.

Universities’ homecomings are special

While some people have opted out of getting the IDs and, instead, received “not for federal identification” ID cards, the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles expects up to 2.2 million to seek them eventually.

The IDs won’ be needed to drive, vote or access benefits such as Social Security. And if you have a valid U.S. passport, military ID or another form of federal identification that's accepted to pass airport security, you may still use it instead of changing to a REAL ID, which will be valid for up to eight years.

In general, however, your best bet is to get REAL. To obtain the ID, a person needs to provide:

• A government-issued birth certificate or U.S. passport.

• Proof of Social Security number.

• Two proofs of current S.C. address.

• Records of any name changes.

Some people – those with documents on file with DMV -- are eligible to get a Real ID online. Find out if you are one of them at https://www.scdmvonline.com/Public/Transactions/Info.aspx

While you have until next year to change your card, officials are encouraging people to make a trip to the DMV sooner to avoid anticipated long lines as the deadline approaches.

Getting the new IDs is important. Don’t be among those waiting until they need one in 2020 to board a plane, enter a federal building or go onto a military base.

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