N.C. DMV surpasses 2 million REAL IDs issued

Raleigh, NC – The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles reached a milestone with the issuance of its 2 millionth REAL ID license or ID enhancement late last week, more than a year before the REAL ID Act will go into effect.

The N.C. REAL ID is a REAL ID Act-compliant driver license that is just like a traditional license or ID but has a star at the top.

Starting Oct. 1, 2021, federal agencies will require a REAL ID, U.S. passport or another form of federally-approved identification to board commercial airlines and to enter many federal buildings or facilities. The original date was Oct. 1 of this year, but it was delayed a year last spring due to COVID-19.

N.C. REAL ID Is Completely Optional

You do not need a REAL ID driver license or identification card to do any of the following:

  • Drive
  • Vote
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.)
  • Enter a federal facility that does not require an ID (e.g., a post office)
  • Access a hospital or receive life-saving services
  • Participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations (e.g., serve on a federal jury, testify in federal court, etc.)

A REAL ID, however, might be helpful for anyone who frequently:

  • Boards a commercial airplane
  • Visits nuclear sites
  • Visits military bases
  • Visits federal courthouses, federal prisons or other federal facilities

An individual without a REAL ID or U.S. passport may still be able to board flights or make visits to the facilities mentioned above, but they may have to provide additional documentation with their traditional license or ID.  ​

Obtaining the REAL ID enhancement is easy. If you need to renew your license or ID card, are getting either one for the first time, or just want to upgrade what you already have, it just requires you to provide additional documentation beyond the normal license and ID process requirements. The details on what is required can be found on the REAL ID section of the DMV website. The current process requires making an appointment at a license office, which can be done online on the DMV website.

Once someone has a REAL ID, noted by a gold star in a corner of your license or ID, it remains in effect even when it is time to renew your identification, so you will not have to show the additional documentation again.