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New NC driver’s licenses should get you through airport security more easily

North Carolina will begin issuing N.C. REAL ID driver licenses on Monday. The licenses are intended to meet tougher planned federal security standards at airports and military bases.
North Carolina will begin issuing N.C. REAL ID driver licenses on Monday. The licenses are intended to meet tougher planned federal security standards at airports and military bases. N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles

Beginning Monday, North Carolina residents can obtain special new optional driver’s licenses that the state says will make it easier to pass through security at airports and military bases.

The “N.C. REAL ID” license is just like your traditional driver’s license or ID but has a gold star endorsement at the top, officials with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles said in announcing the new licenses Wednesday.

The state is issuing the new licenses in response to tougher security standards planned at airport security check-ins and at military bases and other federal facilities beginning Oct. 1, 2020.

Residents must visit their nearest DMV license office to apply for their first N.C. REAL ID.

“The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles has worked extremely hard to prepare our state to meet this new federal requirement,” David Howard, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Transportation, said in a statement. “We are glad to offer this optional, single ID to help our citizens travel and access federal facilities.”

Here are some frequently asked questions about the new license, according to the DMV:

Q. Where do I go to get one?

A. You must visit a DMV driver’s license office to obtain your first N.C. REAL ID license. You also can obtain an N.C. REAL ID license at the time of your license renewal, or before the renewal period for the cost of a duplicate.

Q, What documents must I take with me to apply for the new license?

A. You must provide:

▪ One document that proves your identity and verifies birth, such as a birth certificate, valid U.S. passport or immigration documents.

▪ One document that confirms your Social Security number, such as a Social Security card or W-2 form.

▪ Two documents that establish where you live in North Carolina, such as a utility bill, vehicle registration card or bank statement. A complete list of documents that are acceptable proofs of identity and residency is available at NCREALID.com.

Q. What happens if I don’t get one?

A. The new licenses are not mandatory. You can still board flights and enter federal facilities, as long as you provide your license or ID and some additional documentation, such as a passport or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service I-766 employment authorization card.

Residents who prefer to keep their current license or ID will receive credentials that carry the notation, “Not for Federal Identification.”

Q. Does the new license cost more than what I pay now for my driver’s license?

A. No. It costs the same.

Q. How did this REAL ID driver’s license thing start?

A. The new standards were established by the federal REAL ID Act, passed in 2005 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The act is administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

Q. What distinguishes the N.C. REAL ID license from a traditional driver’s license?

A. The N.C. REAL ID license will have a gold star in the top right corner to indicate your identity and residency documents are permanently stored with the N.C. DMV.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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