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The clock is ticking on the deadline for which you'll still be able to use your regular Minnesota driver's license and ID.

If you're planning on flying next spring, or maybe entering any federal facility, your current regular Minnesota driver's license will only work as an accepted, valid for a little over six months. After that, you'll need a Minnesota REAL ID-compliant license or identification card (or another form of identification, like a current passport.)

If it seems like you've been hearing about the switchover to REAL-IDs here in Minnesota for a while, now, it's because we HAVE been talking about it for several years already-- mainly because there have been several extensions that have pushed that REAL ID deadline off into the future.

Minnesota was already late to the party when it comes to REAL IDs

Minnesota was one of the last states in the country to start issuing new, enhanced REAL IDs anyway. State lawmakers originally were concerned about protecting your identity, given the extra level of paperwork needed to get the new IDs. However, once they realized the federal government was going to require flyers in the U.S. to have them ANYWAY, they finally relented and started issuing them a few years ago.

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But then there were several REAL ID extensions

Thanks to the pandemic, the deadline to get a REAL ID has been pushed back several times. The  Department of Homeland Security extended the original deadline of October 20, 2020 until October of 2021. Then, in 2021, they extended it again until the current deadline of May 3, 2023.

That current deadline-- which is now only a little over six months away-- is still kind of amazing when you consider that Congress first passed the REAL ID Act back in 2005. That means that a full 18 years will have passed by the time the new deadline takes effect!

How to get a REAL ID in Minnesota

 I applied for a new REAL ID at the Olmsted County at Government Center in Rochester when my license expired in November of 2020. Their new online check-in system made it REALLY easy, though it still takes about 2 months from the time you apply until you get your new ID in the mail. I applied in November and got my new ID in January of 2021.

If you're not sure if you want a REAL ID (even once the deadline is here,  you can still board a flight with a valid passport), click here to use Minnesota's online Help Me Choose a License/ID tool to decide which driver’s license or ID card is the best fit for you.


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