Getting real with IDs: New IDs set to standardize identification process

An Alaska Real ID will be required to access military bases, get on commercial airplanes and enter any federal facility that requires identification starting on Oct. 1, 2020. 

The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005. The act establishes standard guidelines for accepting identification and prevents any agencies from accepting IDs that do not meet the act’s requirements. The Real ID Act “set[s] standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses,” according to the Homeland Security website.

The basic format of the Real ID will include a star in the upper-righthand corner, laser engraved text for added security, a veteran designation on the bottom-righthand corner and will be made of a strong, polycarbonate body. Graphic by Chrstina Swayney.

Real IDs are meant to replace driver’s licenses and state ID cards and will be required by certain agencies, like the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA. Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every air traveler in all 50 states will need a Real ID or another TSA acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel, according to the DMV website. A list of IDs that meet TSA’s requirements can be found on the TSA site

Real IDs aim to make traveling safer. TSA emphasizes that they are much safer with unique, harder to duplicate features, according to their website. 

Real IDs are visually different from past IDs, such as driver’s licenses or state IDs, in a few ways. They will be marked with the Real ID star in the top right corner and the “federal limits apply” mark will be removed, as no additional identification will be required when entering a federal location. Real IDs will also be made of polycarbonate, which is more durable and secure than the plastic PVC driver’s licenses, according to the DMV

Scott Moua is a geology major at UAA and thinks the added safety is a benefit of Real IDs. 

“I like that they may be safer, even if you have to pay extra. It just makes me feel better that the IDS have extra safety features and it is worth it,” Moua said.

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A standard Real ID costs $40, compared to a regular, non-commercial license, which is $20. There is different pricing for several types of Real IDs, such as a commercial license, $120, or for those 60 years old or older, $20. A complete list of Real ID prices can be found on the State of Alaska DMV site.

The renewal time for Real IDs is also eight years, compared to five years for past IDs.

Specific documents are needed to apply for a Real ID, such as a birth certificate, social security card and proof of address. A checklist of the different forms of documents accepted can be found on the Department of Motor Vehicles website

Peter Kelly is a hospitality professional that has lived in many places, including Alaska, for the past few years. He thinks the application process for obtaining a Real ID is demanding.

“I had to bring in a passport, my social security card, proof that I lived at my address and my dead mother’s body out of the grave,” Kelly said.

The deadline to apply for an Alaska Real ID is Oct. 1, 2020, and applications are only accepted in person at the DMV. Local DMV locations can be found at Real IDs will still be available after the deadline, but federal agencies, such as TSA, will not accept non-Real IDs after the deadline. More information on Real IDs can be found at