I've put off the task long enough: It's time to get a Real ID.

Beginning Oct. 1, Minnesotans 18 and older will need a Real ID, enhanced driver's license or ID card, passport or passport card to get on a domestic flight or enter federal facilities. I have a passport, but I like the ease of pulling out my driver's license at a security checkpoint when I fly anywhere in the country.

Soon enough, it will be crunch time. As of March 4, Minnesota's Driver and Vehicle Services was processing Real ID applications made on Jan. 15; that seven-week lag is bound to grow as people heed the approaching deadline.

I gathered the essential forms (more about that below) and tucked them into a folder. Now it's just a matter of overcoming my dread of long lines.

In an effort to ease the long lines that people are encountering at driver's license application sites across the metro area, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety opened a Real ID application office at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The office, believed to be the first of its kind in an airport nationwide, is located in Terminal 1 and open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You'll need an appointment; schedule a visit on a flying day at drive.mn.gov (click on "Apply for Real ID at MSP Airport Terminal 1"). Planning ahead is essential since Real ID applications require documents most people don't carry on trips. My file, for instance, holds my Social Security card, passport, a bank statement and a utility bill.

So what forms are needed? You'll need proof of identity and date of birth, such as an unexpired U.S. passport or passport card or a certified copy of your birth certificate. You'll need proof of your Social Security number. Social Security cards (provided they are not laminated) and federal W2 forms will fit the bill. Finally, you will need two documents proving your residency, such as a recent home utility service bill and bank account statement with your name and address.

The department explains what's needed. For a detailed list of documents and other information on Real ID in Minnesota, go to dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/real-id. You can also send an e-mail to dvs. driverslicense@state.mn.us or call 651-297-3298.

Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.