The wait is nearly over for Minnesotans who want to get a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or a state identification card. The Department of Vehicle Services will start processing applications on Oct. 1.

But don’t expect the turnaround time to be fast.

It might take even longer to process applications and mail out the federally approved cards than for standard licenses, as officials brace for an influx of customers coming in to renew or get the new licenses. Agents also have to get used to operating the new system.

Earlier this month, the DVS announced that temporary licenses — that yellow piece of paper you get when you apply or renew — will now be good for 120 days, or four months. Previously, they were valid for only 60 days.

“Extending the time yellow receipts are valid will ensure that applicants will not have to obtain an extension stamp if they do not receive their cards within 60 days,” said Bruce Gordon, director of communications for the Department of Public Safety. “DVS is doing this to ensure the best possible customer service for Minnesotans.”

Ahead of the Real ID rollout, DVS license agents across the state won’t be issuing licenses or IDs of any kind on Sept. 28 or 29. That is when data from the old system will migrate to the new FAST driver services system that will be used to make the new Real IDs. Many offices will simply be closed for those two days, but some will remain open to handle other needs such as issuing new license plates and tabs or processing vehicle titles, Gordon said.

Minnesotans do not need to have a Real ID until October 2020, so there is no need to rush out and get one, he said. Standard driver’s licenses and ID cards can still be used for boarding domestic flights and entering federal facilities.

Gordon said drivers or ID card holders should wait until their renewal date, which should help the transition to the new card and reduce wait times. Only those whose licenses are expiring or who need to get a new one due to a change of name or address should apply for a Real ID right now.

Anybody who renews early will be assessed a $2 to $6 fee, which is based on how many months before their standard license expires. But they will get four years added to the original expiration date, officials said.

The fee for early renewal will be added to the cost of a standard or Real ID-compliant card, which remains at $25.25 for a driver’s license or $19.25 for a state ID card.

Real ID-compliant licenses and ID cards will feature a gold star in the upper right corner. The star indicates the card meets the minimum secure standards for identification set by the federal government. Minnesotans can also opt for an enhanced driver’s license or ID, which also meets the requirements of Real ID. Enhanced licenses and ID cards will feature a flag in the upper right corner and can be used for accessing federal facilities, flying on domestic airlines and as official documents for land and sea border crossings with Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean nations, much like a passport.

More flashing yellows in Minnetonka

Drivers making left turns in Minnetonka may not be held up by red arrows as often. This summer the city installed flashing yellows at 11 intersections, and another nine are coming in early 2019. Flashing yellow arrows let drivers make left turns after yielding to oncoming traffic, including bikes and pedestrians.

 

Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail drive@startribune.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.