About Real ID

Introduction

The Iowa DOT will begin issuing cards with the compliant marking beginning Jan. 15, 2013.
In response to acts of terrorism committed against the United States, and in an effort to ensure the safety of citizens, Congress passed the REAL ID Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109-13, 119 Stat. 231). The Act modified federal law pertaining to security, authentication and issuance procedure standards for state driver’s licenses and identification (ID) cards, as well as various immigration issues pertaining to terrorism and border control.

As REAL ID is implemented, federal agencies will not accept for official federal purposes a driver’s license or identification (ID) card not issued in compliance with the REAL ID Act. (See below for full explanation of implementation dates.) To assure Iowans can continue to use their driver’s license and ID cards for federal official purposes in the future, the Iowa Department of Transportation began issuing cards with the compliant marking on Jan. 15, 2013.

States remain free to also issue noncomplying driver's licenses and IDs, so long as they can be clearly distinguished from a REAL ID-compliant card. The State of Iowa has elected to issue both REAL ID-compliant and noncomplying driver's license and ID cards. Therefore, current driver's license and ID card holders may choose whether to obtain a REAL ID-marked card. (Successful new applicants will automatically receive one as they are already required to present documents required for REAL ID verification.)  

Dispelling the myths

Truths about common myths
  • The REAL ID Act does not establish a national database of driver and identification information.
  • The REAL ID-marked driver's license and ID cards do not contain an electronic chip that allows movements of individuals to be tracked.
Contrary to a common myth, the REAL ID Act does not establish a national database of driver and identification information. The information applicants present to the Iowa DOT is held securely by the department; it is not entered into a national database.

Another untrue myth is that the REAL ID-marked driver's license and ID cards contain an electronic chip that allows movements of individuals to be tracked. There is no such chip/device in cards issued by the State of Iowa. Some U.S. border states offer an enhanced driver's license that includes passive vicinity radio frequency identification embedded in the card that meets federal requirements and facilitates rapid identification checks at the border. However, that technology is not required by the REAL ID Act and is not used in cards issued by Iowa. Iowa’s driver's licenses and ID cards do have the required bar code printed on the back; that code requires manual scanning and only conveys the information appearing on the face of the driver's license or ID card, without the photo.

Definition of federal “official purposes”

Federal official purposes are defined by the regulations as boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, accessing federal facilities that require identification to enter, and entering nuclear power plants.

Phasing in of the law and staggered compliance dates

There is no reason to rush out to your nearest driver’s license issuance site to get a REAL ID-marked card. The law is being phased in over several years and many people will be able to wait until their driver’s license is up for renewal before applying for a REAL ID-marked card. The original individual compliance deadlines were based on your date of birth: Dec. 1, 2014, for persons born after Dec. 1, 1964, and Dec. 1, 2017, for persons born on or before Dec. 1, 1964. The Iowa DOT understands the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is delaying implementation for compliant states like Iowa and will set and announce new, delayed compliance dates for individuals from compliant states later this year. In the meantime, Iowa citizens may continue to use valid Iowa driver’s licenses and IDs for all official federal purposes. Based on initial information provided by DHS, it appears the new individual compliance dates will begin no earlier than 2016. The Iowa DOT will continue to update Iowa citizens as DHS makes these dates known.

Appearance of a REAL ID-marked card

The law applies to all types of driver's licenses and ID cards issued by the state. Because Iowa already produces cards that met the REAL ID Act’s security standards, there will be almost no material differences between standard Iowa driver's licenses and ID cards and the REAL ID-marked cards. They will be made of the same materials; offer the same security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication; contain the same information; and have the same general appearance. The only significant physical difference will be a star verification mark on the front of the card in the upper, right-hand corner of a REAL ID-marked card.

Using your existing Iowa driver’s license or ID or electing to apply for a REAL ID-marked card

Even after the federal individual compliance deadlines are set and become effective, valid Iowa driver’s licenses and IDs not marked as REAL ID compliant can be used for all purposes other than "federal official purposes," including driving (if a driver’s license) and voting.

Because first-time/new applicants are required to present documents proving their identity (the same ones that are required by the REAL ID Act), these individuals will automatically be issued a REAL ID-marked driver's license or ID card when their application is approved. 

Current driver's license or ID card holders will need to decide whether they want to apply for a REAL ID-marked card. Generally, that decision is based on whether the cardholder plans to use their driver's license or ID card as identification to board a commercial aircraft, access a federal building that requires identification to enter, or enter a nuclear power plant. If you have a valid U.S. passport or other acceptable forms of federal identification, you can use it for identification, rather than a REAL ID-marked driver's license or ID card. (A list of Transportation Safety Administration approved documents is available on the TSA’s website: www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/acceptable-ids.) If you elect not to get a REAL ID-marked card; then change your mind, you can still apply for one at a later time.

What has changed and how to obtain a REAL ID-marked card

If you want an REAL ID-marked card, you must complete a new application (assisted by the driver’s license issuance site representative) and present proof of identity. Regardless of whether you have held your driver’s license or ID for a short time or many years, the same provisions apply.
The most significant change affects current driver’s license or ID card holders. If you want an REAL ID-marked card, you must complete a new application (assisted by the driver’s license issuance site representative) and present proof of identity. Regardless of whether you have held your driver’s license or ID card for a short time or many years, the same provisions apply.

The purpose of providing documentation is to verify that you are indeed the person you claim to be, which enhances national security, and prevents fraud and identity theft. Required documents provide proof of identity; date of birth; Social Security number; Iowa residence; and lawful status or presence in the United States.

To assist Iowans gather the necessary documents, there is a list of acceptable documents available on the Internet (Proof of Identity), or you can call 800-532-1121 to listen to a recorded message

Remember, you have until the federal individual compliance dates (see above) to apply for a REAL ID-marked card. There is no rush; many people can wait until their regularly scheduled renewal visit. If, however, the compliance dates are set at dates before you are next due to renew, you may apply for a duplicate card. Whether applying at renewal or as a duplicate, you must present the proper identification noted above. (ID cards issued to persons 70 and older that were issued before Jan. 1, 2014, do not have an expiration date; those persons will need to apply for a duplicate if they want a REAL ID-marked card.)

Once you have a REAL ID-marked card, you will not have to provide proof of identity again. However, a person that is a foreign national with temporary lawful status must provide proof of lawful status at each renewal.

There are no additional knowledge or drive tests required to get a REAL ID-marked card. There are no additional fees. Cards will be valid for the standard lengths of time. If you are a person who is a foreign national with temporary status, your card will say “limited term” and be valid for the period of your lawful stay in the United States, not to exceed two years. If your lawful stay has no defined end or expiration date, it will be valid for no longer than one year.

Once your application for a REAL ID-marked driver’s license or ID card is approved, you will be issued a temporary paper card. The plastic card will be mailed to you, typically within 10 days.

Additional documents are required if your name has changed

If you are a new/first-time applicant or current cardholder wanting to obtain a REAL ID-marked card, additional documents are required if your name has changed.
(This section applies to new/first-time applicants and current cardholders wanting to obtain a REAL ID-marked card.)

If your name is different than the one shown on your birth certificate or other document used to establish identity and date of birth, you must complete an affidavit of name change, which is an electronic form completed while you are at the driver’s license issuance site. You must also provide certified copies of the legal documents that connect the name on the document used to establish identity and date of birth to your current name. Acceptable documents are listed on the REAL ID website.