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Grown: What is a Real ID and how do I get one in Arkansas?

by Nyssa Kruse | December 29, 2020 at 10:12 a.m.
A sample Arkansas enhanced driver's license, or "Real ID," is shown in this undated photo.

This story is a part of The Article, your guide to Arkansas news and culture, presented by the Democrat-Gazette. Sign up for The Article's twice-weekly newsletter here.

Real IDs will be required for certain activities starting Oct. 1, 2021 — but what is a Real ID and how do Arkansans get one? Here are the basics.

What is a Real ID?

A Real ID is a state-issued identification card created to meet new federal security standards.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, the standards come from a 2005 federal law, which was based on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations that identification cards should be more secure if they’re used to access certain federal sites or board planes.

In Arkansas, a driver’s license can be issued as a Real ID, as can general state identification cards for those who are not licensed drivers.

What happens if I don’t get a Real ID?

Charlie Collins, commissioner of revenue with the finance department, said Arkansans are not required to switch to a Real ID, but starting Oct. 1, 2021, older state identification cards and driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted by the TSA to board a flight in the United States.

Non-Real IDs will also no longer be accepted to enter certain federal facilities, including prisons and other buildings.

However, non-Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards will remain valid for state purposes.

How do I get a Real ID?

Arkansans can get a Real ID at any state revenue office. Several documents will be needed to obtain the card (more on that below).

Marla McHughes, assistant administrator of drivers services with the Finance Department, said if an individual’s driver’s license is not renewed, the fee is $10 to exchange for a Real ID.

If a driver’s license is being renewed, McHughes said an individual can choose to receive a Real ID for the same cost as a standard renewal, $40.

Getting a state identification card that is Real ID compliant or renewing an existing card as a Real ID costs $5.

What documents should I bring to get a Real ID?

In order to obtain a Real ID, Arkansans will need proofs of residency, of legal presence, of identity and of their Social Security number.

McHughes said Arkansans can learn more about which documents meet each of those standards, by using the Real ID expert website, which walks users through the requirements by asking questions about their background and what documents they do or do not have.

There is also a list of acceptable documents from the finance department.

Assistance is available by phone at (501) 371-5581.

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