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The State of Montana began issuing REAL ID driver licenses and cards last month. Currently the nearest driver license locations for obtaining the REAL ID credentials for Golden Triangle residents are Cut Bank, Great Falls, Kalispell and Havre. 

Who needs a REAL ID credential? What are they used for and with all the extensions the State has received, what is the REAL date Montanans will need one? 

To answer those questions and more the State of Montana Motor Vehicle Division has created a website, mtrealid.gov, to help you decide if the REAL ID driver license or ID card is right for you and to walk you through the process of obtaining it. The site is easily navigable and very informative. 

Here are some of the most often asked questions and answers about the REAL ID Act and the benefits of obtaining a REAL ID credential.

“What is the REAL ID Act?”

The REAL ID Act is a federal law about the security, authentication, and issuance for state driver licenses and ID cards. Congress enacted this law based on a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission.

“Why is a REAL ID credential beneficial?”

It is your choice to get a REAL ID credential or not.  If you fly domestically and simply want the convenience of carrying your driver license or ID card to board your flights or if you do not have another TSA approved alternative form of identification, you may want to obtain a REAL ID so your travel plans are not affected. 

“Does Montana have an extension from DHS for the REAL ID Act?”

Yes! The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted Montana an extension until June 1, 2019.

Montana’s Motor Vehicle Division has until June 1, 2019 to submit Montana’s full compliance to REAL ID packet. MVD will submit the full compliance packet to DHS shortly after Montana begins issuing REAL ID compliant credentials.

Once DHS approves our full compliance packet, ALL Montana driver licenses and ID cards will still be accepted as identification for domestic, commercial flights and as identification to access federal facilities until October 2020.

“What is a Montana credential?”

A Montana credential is either a driver license or identification (ID) card issued by the Montana Motor Vehicle Division.

“What if I don’t want a REAL ID credential?”

The decision to get a REAL ID credential is completely up to you.  It is not required for any other reason than to allow you to continue to fly domestically and access certain federal facilities after Oct. 1, 2020.  

For example, you may decide to not get a REAL ID if you already have a passport or another TSA approved alternative form of identification.

“If I do not have a Real ID, can I still vote, apply for federal or state 

benefits, or drive?”

Yes. You can still vote, apply for federal or state benefits, and drive. Furthermore you can enter Federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification, register to vote, be licensed to drive in Montana, obtain a Montana ID card, participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations, and access health or life preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings).

“When is Montana going to issue REAL ID compliant credentials?”

We started issuing REAL ID credentials in January 2019.

“Where can I find the Montana law about REAL ID?”

You can find this law at MCA 61-5-129.

“When do I need a REAL ID credential to fly domestically?”

Oct. 1, 2020.  By then, you must have a REAL ID credential, or a TSA approved alternative form of identification, to fly within the U.S. or to access certain federal facilities or nuclear power plants.

“Can I still use my regular Montana credential to fly domestically until 

Oct. 1, 2020?”

Not yet. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted Montana an extension for REAL ID implementation until June 1, 2019.

MVD has until June 1, 2019 to submit Montana’s full compliance to REAL ID packet. MVD will submit the full compliance packet to DHS shortly after Montana begins issuing REAL ID compliant credentials.

Once our compliance packet is accepted by DHS, ALL Montana driver licenses and ID cards will be accepted as identification for domestic, commercial flights and to access federal facilities until October, 2020.

You can find Montana’s status at the DHS website.

“Do I need to get a REAL ID card right away?”

No. There is no need to rush into a driver license station in January 2019. Valid Montana driver license/ID cards will be accepted by TSA to board a domestic flight and by federal agents to enter secure federal facilities until Oct. 1, 2020.  

Additionally, if you have a valid U.S. passport or U.S. passport card, military ID, or other federally approved identification, you may continue to use this as your form of identification after Oct. 1, 2020, for federal purposes.

“What happens after Oct. 1, 2020?”

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, you will need a REAL ID compliant driver license, identification card or an acceptable alternative form of identification as approved by TSA https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification, to board domestic commercial flights or enter a federal facility without a secondary form of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved identification. 

“Do I need a REAL ID driver license to drive?”

No. You are not required to have a REAL ID driver license to drive.  You can continue to use Montana’s traditional driver license to drive.

“Where can I get a REAL ID credential in Montana?”

In January 2019, you can get a REAL ID credential at these driver license stations:

Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Cut Bank, Deer Lodge, Dillon, Eureka, Glasgow, Glendive, Great Falls, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Lewistown, Libby, Livingston,

Miles City, Missoula, Plentywood, Polson, Red Lodge, Sidney, Stevensville,

Superior, Thompson Falls

 and Wolf Point.

You can view all our REAL ID locations on our custom Google map and view business hours, additional info, and get directions to each station through Google Maps.

“Why can’t I get a REAL ID credential at all stations?”

Our goal is to issue REAL ID credentials at all driver license stations; however, we are still searching for a scanner that will work for our travel stations since examiners bring all equipment with them to these locations. We are continuing to research solutions, and will keep you updated.

“What are the other TSA acceptable forms of identification to fly 

domestically?”

You can find the current and comprehensive list of all acceptable alternative documents on TSA’s website.

You may also contact your airline for specific questions about identification requirements for traveling. 

“What do I need to do to get a REAL ID credential?”

You must:

•Make an appointment

•Appear in person

•Complete an application

•Get your photograph taken

Present documents to prove:

•Your name and date of birth

•Your social security number

•You are a Montana resident

•You are authorized to be in the United States

•Have your documents scanned by MVD staff

“Do I need an appointment to get a REAL ID credential?”

Yes. You must make an appointment at one of the driver license stations issuing REAL ID credentials.

“What documents do I need to bring with me to get a REAL ID?”

There are only a few types of documents that are accepted.  Check out the graphic in this week’s issue or the complete checklist of the documents here: https://mtrealid.gov/required-docs/

“What does it mean that a document needs to be certified?”

A certified document has an original seal, either raised or stamped, by the agency that the document was issued from. This is NOT the same as a document being notarized.

“Why can’t I use a military or tribal ID as a Step 1 document?”

Federal law does not allow a military or tribal ID to be used as a Step 1 document. However, they may be used as an alternative document, which you can see on TSA’s website.

“What does MVD do with my scanned documents for REAL ID?”

We scan your documents and securely store them along with the other information that is part of your driving record.

“Can I tell the difference between a REAL ID and non-REAL ID 

credential?”

Yes.  On the upper right-hand corner:

A REAL ID credential has a gold star.

A non-REAL ID credential has the words “Not for Federal Identification Purposes.”

“What is the difference between a REAL ID and a non-REAL ID credential?”

The only difference is your ability to fly domestically, to access certain federal facilities or nuclear power plants.  Other than that, a non-REAL ID credential works just like your current driver license or ID card.

“What if I have a learner permit, commercial learner permit, restricted or probationary driver license, or a temporary credential?”

Paper credentials are not REAL ID compliant.  After Oct. 1, 2020, you will not be able to fly domestically with a paper credential. 

“Does getting a REAL ID credential cost more?”

If you are getting a credential for the first time, the cost is an additional $50.  For example, you are getting your first driver license or are transferring from another state.

If you have a current Montana credential and you are within six months before your expiration date or less than three months after your expiration date, it will cost an additional $25.

If you have a current Montana credential and you are outside of the renewal period, it will cost you an additional $50.

You can use our chat bot to determine the total amount you will pay for a REAL ID compliant card based on your expiration date, your age and other factors.

“Once I get a REAL ID credential, what happens if my credential 

is lost or stolen?”

If it is a driver license, you can get a replacement driver license either in person or by mail.  You must pay an additional $25 REAL ID fee. When we issue you a replacement REAL ID credential, we will cancel your lost driver license.

If it is an identification card, you must appear in person at a driver license station and apply for a new identification card.  You must pay an additional $25 REAL ID fee.

How many REAL ID credentials may I have at one time?”

Only one. You may have one REAL ID driver license or one REAL ID identification card at one time.

You must choose between a REAL ID driver license or a REAL ID identification card.

“Will MVD issue me a REAL ID credential and a non-REAL ID credential at the same time?”

Yes. The following combinations are allowed:

•REAL ID driver license and a non-REAL ID identification card

•Non-REAL ID driver license and a REAL ID identification card

•Non-REAL ID driver license, Non-REAL ID identification card, REAL ID identification card.

“Will minors need to have a REAL ID credential to fly domestically?”

According to TSA, children under 18 do not need to give any identification when traveling with a companion.  You must contact your airline for specific identification questions for travelers under 18.

“Will I be able to renew my driver license by mail or online and still receive a REAL ID card?”

When REAL ID compliant licenses and identification cards are available, your initial application for a REAL ID compliant driver license or identification card must be done in person at a driver license station. You will not be able to use the online renewal service. 

“Once I have been issued a REAL ID driver license will I be able to renew my driver license online or by mail?”

Yes. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will be able to renew an already issued REAL ID driver license by mail or online as long as you have not changed your name, date of birth (for example, in the case of adoption), or social security number (for example, the Social Security Administration issued you a new number because of fraud).

“Where can I find a list of federal facilities that do not require a 

REAL ID for entry?”

There is not a list of these locations. However, you do not need a REAL ID compliant credential when entering any facility that does not require you to present identification or to access constitutionally protected activities—including a defendant’s access to court proceedings.

You should check with the federal facility you want to enter to find out if you need a REAL ID credential.

“Is there a federal database of people with REAL ID credentials?”

No. The federal government does not have a federal database storing REAL ID information. We securely store your REAL ID information with your driving record information.

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