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State Representative Ben Lien

241 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-5515

For more information contact: DJ Danielson 651-296-8879

Posted: 2017-10-24
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Letter to the Editor

An update on REAL ID in Minnesota


I have received several questions from constituents over the last couple of months regarding Minnesota's compliance with the federal REAL ID law. The REAL ID law was passed by Congress in 2005 as a measure of homeland security. The concept is for states to adopt one set of minimum standards for identification cards that can be used by all federal agencies. In practice, this requires people to have REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses or identification cards to enter certain federal facilities and board commercial aircraft.

The 2009 Minnesota Legislature passed a law banning the state from complying with the federal REAL ID requirement. Some legislators had concerns at the time about the federal government collecting data on Minnesotans, while others were concerned about the cost of implementing the law.

Minnesota became the last state in the union to comply with the federal REAL ID requirements when the Legislature passed a bill earlier this year. The cost to the state will be $13.6 million in fiscal year 2019, and $20.6 million in the fiscal year 2020-21 biennium. As a result of the Legislature passing this bill, Minnesota has received an extension by the federal Department of Homeland Security until October 10, 2018, for full REAL ID compliance.

The state's Department of Public Safety should begin issuing REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and identification cards by October, 2018, although additional federal compliance extensions may be granted until October, 2020. Folks will then be able to apply for REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and identification cards ahead of the expiration date of their existing driver's licenses and identification cards for a fee between $2 and $6 in order to stay on the 4-year renewal schedule. Also, all Driver and Vehicle Services locations in Minnesota will have the option to issue the REAL ID driver's license and identification cards.

Non-REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and identification cards will still be available. In addition to REAL ID and non-REAL ID driver's licenses and identification cards, enhanced driver's licenses and identification cards are currently available for an additional $15 on top of the standard rates for driver's licenses and identification cards (currently, the closest location to obtain enhanced driver's licenses and identification cards is Detroit Lakes; however, by next October all DVS locations should have the option to issue them).

Enhanced driver's licenses and identification cards allow people to re-enter the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean (without a passport); they also allow people to enter certain federal facilities and board commercial aircraft. With the new law passed this spring, and the federal government's extension for Minnesota to get into full compliance, we should be in good shape to fully implement the law by 2020 when no additional extensions will be given.

Originally published in the Forum.

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