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Tennessee to offer Real ID-compliant driver's licenses in July

If Tennessee residents don't have a passport, the Real ID cards will be needed to fly on airplanes, go into federal buildings or enter military bases.

Tennesseans will soon have a new driver’s license starting July 1. 

This license is called "Real ID," which will soon be issued to allow the state to meet federal standards under the REAL ID Act that primarily affects domestic air travel.

Tennesseans must have the new license by Oct. 1st, 2020, in order to fly domestically without another form of identification.

Dorothy Durr is a Tennessee driver and a frequent flyer. She just learned about the new changes to Tennessee driver’s licenses and IDs.

Durr says she's definitely going to get the new ID.

“As long as it’s not too much trouble,” said Dorothy Durr. “I travel often. So if it's going to make things easier, then I'm for it.”

Currently, 4.5 million people have a Tennessee driver’s license. As of right now, all of those are compliant with the REAL ID act, according to the Department of Homeland Security, but that will soon change because the roll out of the changes has been in stages. The next stage is the REAL ID license, which will add a gold star to the driver's license, which signifies it as a federal ID.

Tennesseans aren't required to get the upgraded driver's licenses. However, if residents don't have a passport, the Real ID cards will be needed to fly on airplanes, go into federal buildings or enter military bases.

Tennessee's Director of Drivers Services Michael Hogan says the new license will not cost more than the original one.

“It has to be a certified birth certificate, or a U.S. passport if you were here,” Michael Hogan said. “If you are here with a legal presence in the country, then there are various forms.”

Hogan says this program has been rolling out in phases across the country. This legislation began in 2005 during the George W. Bush administration.

“That was one of the concerns with the hijackers of 911 because a lot of them have been here past their authorized stay,” Hogan explained. “So this right here ensures it.”

Hogan says other states have only seen a 20 percent increase in people getting the new license. So he does not expect high volumes from DMVs in Tennessee.

Durr says she just wants the process to be fast and simple.

“There are always long lines at the DMV,” Durr said before laughing.

Tennesseans can expect the new IDs to be issued this July.

How do REAL IDs differ from current IDs? 

  • The REAL ID is a regular license that adds a gold star. That gold star allows you to get through security when you’re flying or allows you to enter a federal building. It designates your license as a federal form of identification
  • 42 other states are already issuing these license
  • If you do not get the REAL ID, your license is only a state license, not a federal license and when you renew your license it will say “not for federal identification”
  • You will have to have the Gold star license, passport, military ID (or other TSA approved ID) to get on a plane in the U.S. If you choose not to get the star you cannot travel by air with your driver’s license
  • Without the REAL ID, you won't also won't be able to enter a federal building starting in October 2020

How will that process work? Does everyone have to go to the DMV? 

When you go to renew your license you will have to present proper documentation -- same as what the state has always required in the past when you come in to TN – social security card, birth certificate/passport, two proofs of residency

Do drivers have to pay for the new license? How much? 

If you are renewing your license, you’ll pay that normal fee when you go to get your license with a gold star

If your license is current, you will have to pay an $8 duplicate fee to get a license with the gold star