Right before the beginning of the Pandemic, most people started to hear about “REAL ID” for the first time. However, the US Government started planning this initiative over 17 years ago in 2005. Some government agencies had already began enforcing it for personnel by 2014, but the target date for nation-wide enforcement was originally set for 2020. The rollout was understandably delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic to 2021; and then extended again to 2023, and then finally to 2025. With all of these setbacks, many people are confused on the current status of REAL ID. So, where do things stand now as of March 2023? This blog will walk you through all things related to REAL ID and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJ MVC).
What is REAL ID?
In the wake of September 11th, 2001, there was a massive overhaul of governmental procedures as well as a litany of new legislation introduced for national security. Until then, you could use your state issued driver’s license for airline travel within the continental United States no matter what requirements your state had in place for issuing driver’s licenses. Legislators in Washington DC proposed that there should be uniform & mandatory documentation requirements for driver’s licenses used for airplane travel throughout all 50 States. So, the REAL ID Act was introduced and passed in 2005. All driver’s licenses in the United States compliant with REAL ID will now feature a star logo somewhere on the front side. Since you can use other documentation for airline travel that is REAL ID compliant (such as a passport), it is not mandatory to have a REAL ID driver’s license as long as you have another form of compliant federal identification.
What Will A REAL ID Driver’s License Require?
In New Jersey, issued identification such as Driver’s Licenses utilize a “point” system. Personal documents used for identification are weighted, so not all documents are of equal point value. The requirements for REAL ID driver’s licenses are as follows:
- Proof of Address (2 Points Required):
- Valid NJ driver’s license/non-driver identification card/MVC issued driver’s license renewal form displaying residential address. (1 Point)
- Utility or credit card bill issued in the past 90 days. (1 Point)
- Checking or savings account statement from a bank or credit union issued within the past 60 days. (1 Point)
- Original, unexpired lease or rental agreement. (1 Point)
- Tax bill, statement or receipt, and/or any letter or correspondence received from the IRS or tax office within the past year. (1 Point)
- First class mail from any government agency in the past six months. (1 Point)
- If under the age of 18, statement from parent or guardian certifying address of applicant. (1 Point)
- Proof of Full Social Security Number (1 Point Required):
- I know my Social Security Number and have entered it on my application. (REQUIRED)
- W-2 Form issued within the past year. (1 Point)
- Pay stub with name and full Social Security Number. (1 Point)
- 1099 Form issued within the past year. (1 Point)
- Combination of Primary and Secondary Documents (6 Points Required):
- There are nine primary document options (worth 4 points each) and twenty-six secondary document options (ranging from 1-3 points each) that you can provide that, when totaled together, must equal 6 or more points. For a full list of all primary and secondary document options, view either of the “document checklist” links found at the bottom of this blog.
- You may only provide a maximum of one primary document. Of the thirteen secondary document options that are worth 1 point each, you can only provide a maximum of two options.
- Some documents cannot be accepted in combination with other documents. For instance, you cannot provide an ATM/debit card in combination with a bank statement for your secondary documents. If you use the “document checklist” website link below, the online checklist will conveniently & automatically exclude options that are incompatible with one another as you fill it out.
When does REAL ID go into effect?
As previously mentioned, there have been multiple delays of REAL ID enforcement. The current date is set for May 7th, 2025. Appointments can take weeks or even months to schedule in advance and/or prepare for, depending on your location, time flexibility, and ability to procure necessary documentation. So, don’t wait until the last minute! In the past few years, the New Jersey MVC has reorganized its offices based on services provided. Not all MVC locations provide license renewal and/or REAL ID appointments. So, it is crucial to schedule your appointment at a location that will comply. Use the TeleGov online search tool linked at the bottom of this blog to find a location for REAL ID appointments.
While REAL ID primarily affects domestic airline travel, remember that you will need a passport for international travel. Bowman & Company LLP’s commercial services department offers international tax services such as pre-immigration & expatriation planning. Contact our Director Josette Traversa, CPA for international matters.
Sources & Further Reading
- New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission – Real ID (Home Page)
- New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission – What to Bring: Document Checklist (Website)
- New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission – What to Bring: Document Checklist (PDF File)
- TeleGov – NJMVC REAL ID Appointments
- US Department of Homeland Security – About REAL ID