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10Listens: Answering your questions about Real ID

You can now get a new Tennessee Driver's License that has a small-but-important change.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Starting July 1, you can now get a new Real ID-certified Tennessee driver's license that will be important if you plan on doing any domestic air travel in 2020 and beyond. 

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It's called Real ID, and all new Tennessee licenses will come marked with a gold star in the top right corner to show it meets federal Real ID standards.

Getting a new license is not required for driving, but you will need a Real ID license to enter certain federal buildings and to fly commercially without a passport or military ID in the U.S. when Oct. 2020 arrives. That's when U.S. officials will begin enforcing the next phase of the Real ID policy. 

Many of you have reached out with questions about the roll-out, and many of you have asked if you have to get a new license even if you recently had it renewed.

The answer is yes -- if you want to get Real ID and not have to bring a second form of ID to fly when Oct. 2020 rolls around. 

At least a dozen of you on Facebook asked if your current ID is fake. The answer is no. Your current driver's license is still a valid license and can be used as a form of ID just as it could before. 

"I want to stress to all Tennesseans, you do not have to have the Real ID unless you plan on flying in an airplane, commercial airline, also visiting a federal building or going in to a federal nuclear facility," Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long said. 

You can still fly with a valid passport or military ID along with a valid non-Real ID license. 

"Whether you get a Real ID or not has nothing to do with the things you do with your driver's license now. You'll still be able to vote, you'll still be able to  purchase beer and cigarettes. You'll also be able to access federal benefits and any other thing that you do with your driver's license now, especially driving," Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Assistant Commissioner Lori Bullard said. 

In fact, officials said Real ID is just like getting your regular license, but in addition to proving citizenship and residency, you must prove your social security number--with the card itself or tax forms. 

You can only get Real ID in person at a driver service center. Officials said they will partner with several county clerks offices to help relieve traffic at driver service centers. 

If you intend on living in Tennessee for the foreseeable future, it would likely be a good idea to head over to a licensing center to apply for a Real ID-compliant license sooner rather than later to avoid a last-minute September rush.

If you've changed your name since your last license was issued, you might also need to prove it. 

"If anyone has a name change other than a source document and present it as proof of identity, they will be required to show proof of that name change -- so a marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption or court order," Director of Drivers Services Michael Hogan said. 

All new Tennessee licenses issued from July 1 onward will be Real ID-compliant. Officials said once you get your Real ID, you can just renew it online or in the mail like you could before.

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