"Sailors plan for safety. For escape. For survival. Sailors rely on plans, on strategies that have worked before. Trust me, most mariners are conservative. We stick to the tried and true." Randall Peffer, "Listen to the Dead"

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Do You Have Your REAL ID?

     "On May 3, 2023 U. S. travelers must be REAL ID compliant to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities." -- U. S. Department of Homeland Security.

     Starting in May 2023 your regular drive's license will no longer serve as proper identification. If you don't have a REAL ID, which is a specially certified driver's license, you'll need to produce a valid, current passport.

     Have you received a notice with a link to apply for your REAL ID? I moved to Pennsylvania four years ago, and the state has all my current information. I was informed that I was pre-qualified to get my REAL ID online. So I filled out the form, sent it in, and commenced to wait.

    Eventually I got a message back, telling me that I was not pre-qualified after all, due to "Error 6001."

     I wrote back: "What is Error 6001?"

     I got an answer. Something to do with my Social Security number. So I had to go to a PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) office in person to apply for my REAL ID.

     I looked it up. My nearest office is open Tues. through Sat. from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Well, I think I'm pretty smart, so I decided to arrive right at 8:30 before anyone else got there.

     I gathered my materials: Social Security card, passport, driver's license, an electric bill showing my address. Then I jumped in my car a little after 8 a.m. and drove to the PennDOT office, located in a strip mall. I pulled into the almost-empty parking lot, once again congratulating myself on how smart I am.

     Except there was a group of cars crowding one side of the parking lot. Then I saw a line of people strung out along the entire front of the mall. And I realized, once again, that I'm not as smart as I think I am. 

     I almost gave up, thinking I'd come back another day. But what day? When would motor vehicles be any less crowded? I heaved a sigh (and maybe a curse word), then parked my car, trudged up to the back of the line, and waited for the place to open.

     Five minutes later the doors swung out, and the line slowly disappeared into the building. Amazingly enough, I found myself at the door in just a few minutes. "What are you here for?" a man asked, as I donned my mask.

     "My REAL ID."

     He gave me a number and told me to take a seat. I walked into the room, noticing that people were socially distanced. I took a seat next to two empty chairs. I saw half a dozen windows in front of me, with numbers lit up on a screen on the wall. I sat down, looked around at the people, then pulled out my phone and commenced to bide my time.

     I decided I ought to check my paperwork. Yes, all my ID papers were there. Then I pulled out the PennDOT instructions. A payment of $60 was required. Credit cards were accepted online. But in person, the requirement was check or money order.

     Oh God. I didn't bring my check book! Would I have to go back home to get it and return? And wait some more? Was this going to take all day?

     Then I remembered. I had cash. I pulled out my wallet. There was a $50 bill, along with a $5 and a $10 and a few ones. Maybe they would take cash. I decided to wait it out.

     The fellow who'd been in front of me in the line outside went up to the counter. He didn't take long. Then they called my number. I saw it on the screen. I felt like I'd won the lottery!

     I walked up to the counter and was greeted by a friendly woman who asked my name and birthdate, wanted to see my license. "Oh, this is easy," she said. "You're pre-qualified."

     Really? I confessed that PennDOT had told me there was something wrong with my application. Error 6001. She looked at her computer. "I don't know what 6001 is. But everything looks in order."

     Then I gulped. "Um, I didn't bring my checkbook. Do you take a credit card? Or ... I have cash."

     "We don't take cash," she said. "A credit card is fine. Just insert it in the machine."

     I put in my credit card, signed the form she slipped to me across the counter. She told me my REAL ID would arrive in the mail in ten days or so. 

     Mission accomplished -- in just half an hour! The woman behind the window was even nice.

     So I await my REAL ID, hoping I don't get any more error reports. Starting in May 2023, I'll be able to enter federal buildings and take a domestic flight, without worrying about carrying a passport. Gee . . . I wonder if I'll need a vaccination card.


Celia said...

Wow, what a process. Good for you for sticking to it. I've not gotten mine. I'm lazy, my license expires next March so I plan on getting it then. And 80th birthday gift to myself. :-)

Olga said...

Does it look like a regular license but with a star on it? I remember taking a lot of required paperwork to the DMV a couple of years ago. I have a passport card mostly just for getting in and out of Canada when the border is open again.

AWmom said...

My husband and I went down together we waited in line the first time our Copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate were not certified and current copies.55 dollars to our county then another trip to the DMV.As Seniors we got to go to a special line .Once inside we were separated into different lines.I took 30 minutes .My husband took 15. We waited I got my real ID .My husband just got a regular license and I'd.They never put his papers in the computer.so in the fall he must pay more money and apply again .Its a racket!

Pam said...

This is one of those situations that can be more difficult for women if they've taken their husband's surname. Add to that a divorce and it gets complicated. I had to write a letter to the county of my birth to get a copy of my birth certificate; then I had to get a marriage and divorce certificate; since I remarried, I had to get another stamped copy of my marriage certificate. Letters were written and there were nominal fees. It took some time to get all of the necessary documents because we've moved a few times. Ironically, my husband waltzed into DMV, asked for his upgrade, paid the fee, and was all done. I am very glad to have the paper trail behind me!

Anonymous said...

DMV was a nightmare, when I tried to delete my middle name on regular DL. (I never used it after I was married & also had added married name to maiden name.
I was told I needed a court order to change my name & freaked out. Finally realized passport & SS card were both already updated with correct info, so took those to DMV & it was a very simple change.

When time to get real ID, just had to find documents that matched my double last name (maiden/married - spaced, no hyphen). Everything went fine & it took no time at all. Husband's took longer as they did not accept his BC (thought it was phony due to way it was cut), but he got regular licensed renewed & could update paperwork by end of year, without paying again. He took his passport back instead & that was all it took to qualify for real id as he'd provided everything else already. Federal government trumped state in both our cases, as both of us had gotten our passports issued originally & then renewed with absolutely no problems, with names, paperwork, etc.

Miss Merry said...

It's on our agenda for this month. Our DMV requires me to bring two pieces of mail addressed to me with my married name at my current address, a certified copy of our marriage registration, birth certificate and, well, I better check the list before I go. Most women I talk to make at least two trips to get it right. I believe the line wraps around the building every day, no matter what time you get there.

Tom said...

Olga-- Yes, a regular license but with a star on it. And Pam, you are so right. My wife B, much like Anon above, ended up having to go to court to get her id certified when we moved from NY to CT in 2016. It was a nightmare at the time; but at least now she had no trouble with her REAL ID.

Sue said...

Oh brother, more hassles - but such is bound to happen, in a country where about anyone can waltz on in.

Arkansas Patti said...

Since my fear of flights will keep me out of an airplane and I can't imagine any federal building I will need to enter, I haven't planned to get one. After hearing some of the struggles, am glad of that.
Glad you made it though.

Anonymous said...

In the middle of June I received a renewal notice for my drivers license which will expire in August. The process was the same for a standard license, a Real ID or an "Enhanced" ID. The notice instructed me to either fill out and mail a hard-copy pre-application or do it on-line. I chose the latter, and the process went well. The pre-app acceptance letter followed in a couple of days and indicated the pre-app approval was good for 30 days. The next step was to schedule an appointment to actually process the application. So I went on line and attempted to schedule at the nearest deputy registrar. The earliest available appointment was in about 9 weeks(!), well past the expiration of my license and the 30 day pre-approval window. I eventually found a deputy registrar with an opening at 29 days, in the middle of July. Of course, the DMV indicates they are currently backlogged 4-6 weeks, so I now expect my Real ID will arrive sometime in late August or September. I have a passport card, which will work for flights and gov't facilities, but choosing something other than Real ID would have had no effect on the timing. I expect I will get past this experience, but I'm viewing it as another example of disregard for the consumer that we see from both public and private enterprises today.

Rian said...

Tom, I went to look at my TDL just now. It does have the 'star' on it... so I guess I'm OK. They must have done it the last time I got it renewed (which was 2018).

RetirementCoffeeShop said...

My wife and I got our Real ID a few months ago. In Oklahoma you have to go to a Tag Agency. In OKC the waitlist for an appointment was about 2 months out. I called a Tag Agency 30 minutes out of the metro area and got an appointment for the next week. It was a pretty easy process.

Bob Lowry said...

We got ours last year, preparing for loot of travel that never happened. It was a smooth process and glad it is a task completed.

Suemn said...

Thank goodness I was able to get the real id when my standard driver's license expired earlier this year. Some of the driver license bureaus here let us schedule appointments during the lock down so I had a specific time to go and I didn't have to wait except that I got there about 10 minutes early. Before arriving, I had printed the application form off the internet and had it all filled in so that saved time too.

Margaret said...

I've thought of doing that since I live in a state that requires me to do so. I have a passport so I may just use that, although it's much bigger than my drivers license. It sounds like a pain!

Kay said...

My license expires in July 2023. The DMV is a nightmare these days. I hope it will be much better by then. When we renewed our passports, we also got passport cards which should work. I hope.

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