Florida's official Motor Vehicle site shows a countdown - only 149 days left - to get a REAL ID driver's license by May 3, 2023. Without it, you can't get on a plane in the U.S. (at least without a passport).
As a result, the lines could start getting long and there could be a rush early next year to get the Florida REAL ID driver's license.
The REAL ID Act of 2005 goes into effect then. All people boarding flights must have a REAL ID on them (or else a passport or military ID). You also will not be able to enter federal buildings with security or a military base.
If your driver's license does not have a white star or a gold circle with a white star in the upper right-hand corner, you do not have a REAL ID-compliant D.L.
Here is what it looks like:
This shows the gold circle white star very clearly and indicates that this license is REAL-ID compliant.
How To Get a Florida REAL ID license before May 3, 2023
You must visit an office to become REAL ID compliant for the first time. You can go to this site: www.flhsmv.gov/locations. That will allow you to find a driver's license service center or tax collector office near you in Florida.
Given the long lines that are projected to occur early next year, you should probably make an appointment online prior to your office visit.
What Documents To Bring
Florida has a site that goes into all the details of what documents to bring. But, for simplicity's sake here are the most common types of documents that will be required:
For U.S. Citizens:
- Valid, unexpired U.S. passport
- Original or Certified copy of a birth certificate
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad
- Certificate of Naturalization issued by DHS
- Certificate of Citizenship
If you have had a name change bring the following:
- Court ordered name change document
- Marriage certificate, issued by the courts and/or
- Divorce decree, issued by the courts
Florida says that the bottom line is that you must show " a clear trail of name changes originating with the birth name to the current name."
- Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card – I-551 for Lawful Permanent Residents
- Valid Passport for non-immigrants except for asylum applicants and refugees
- Other government-issued documents showing your full name
- Department of Homeland Security document showing proof of lawful presence
- If your name has changed by marriage/divorce, you must have your name changed on your Citizen and Immigration Services (CIS) documents.
Both Citizens and Non-Citizens will need to bring:
- Your Social Security Card or proof of your social security number.
- A list of documents that provide proof of the social security number can be found on the What to Bring page.
- Two documents that show your principal residence
- A list of these kinds of documents can be found on the What to Bring page
Don't Wait, Don't Procrastinate
The simple fact is that once people start setting up their spring vacations early next year, they are going to realize they need a Florida REAL ID-compliant driver's license.
As a result, the lines and appointment slots could fill up pretty quickly. So now is the ideal time to get in line to get your REAL ID Florida driver's license.
And don't forget, if you don't already have a license with a REAL ID gold star in the upper right-hand corner, you can get one before your existing license is up for renewal. Just bring the documents listed above.
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