WASHINGTON – Minnesota residents can continue to use their standard driver's license or other state-issued ID cards for domestic air travel until 2020, state officials said Monday.
Minnesota has been one of the last states in the country to bring itself into compliance with the new federal requirement, which came in the wake of the September 2001 terror attacks. Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers finally approved a process last year to get Minnesota in full compliance, setting a deadline for the Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DPS-DVS) that it start issuing Real ID-compliant licenses by this October.
"Work to meet that deadline continues, even though the federal government won't require driver's licenses and IDs to be Real ID-compliant until two years later on Oct. 1, 2020," read a news release from the Department of Public Safety.
The federal ID guidelines for flights and for access to federal facilities took effect in January, but Minnesota and some other states were granted an extension until this October.
"Minnesotans will be able to apply for the optional Real ID-compliant cards beginning October 1, 2018, but they will not be needed for federal purposes until October 1, 2020," the DPS said. "That means that Minnesotans will have two years to obtain a Real ID-compliant card."
The directive comes after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security informed the DPS-DVS it was making sufficient progress to meet the federal requirements, and came during a quarterly Real ID compliance check-in, according to state officials. Homeland Security officials did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.
The team working on the Real ID-compliant Minnesota licenses is on schedule, the DPS said. The upgrades come even as a separate project to update Minnesota's IT system for issuing vehicle titles and registrations has been plagued by glitches and slowed down by costly delays.
The Dayton administration's latest timeline for getting the vehicle and title system fully functional now overlaps with when license offices and deputy registrars are likely to start issuing Real ID licenses as well.
The Real ID project team "has completed several system demonstrations to driver's license agents, DVS staff and deputy registrars around the state," according to the Department of Public Safety.
Dayton and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen discussed Minnesota's progress on compliance and the next extension request cycle during a meeting in Washington in January.
Minnesotans whose licenses expire before Real ID licenses are available must still apply for a replacement, which will be valid at least through 2020. Those who apply for a Real ID license before their normal license expires will be charged an early renewal fee ranging from $2 for a renewal 17 months before expiration, to $6 for a renewal more than 29 months before expiration.
Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove and chief author of the Real ID legislation in Minnesota, said he was glad to see that state IDs would continue to allow Minnesotans to board airplanes until October 2020.
"This will ensure Minnesotans aren't hassled by the Real ID transition until 2020," Smith said.