A Minnesota ID
A decade ago, the federal government mandated certain security-minded changes to state-issued IDs and gave states a decade to phase them in. Minnesota has been the biggest laggard due to leadership indifference and the objections of certain GOP legislators who object to the requirement that REAL-compliant IDs contain radio frequency chips—which fed long-held conservative paranoia about a nationalized ID system.
In late 2015 the feds indicated they were getting ready to begin enforcement of REAL ID, a move they’ve since tabled until 2018. Regardless, a number of states were not yet compliant, but were on a path toward compliance and were granted waivers. By December only Minnesota and American Samoa were on the “non-compliant” list. Governor Dayton and company are likely to deal with REAL ID in the 2016 session, but the federal government’s two-year deadline extension theoretically provides the legislature with additional time to dither, depending on how long the state will need to issue new IDs to all residents.
The changes are unopposed by the DFL, while the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s support assures a critical mass of GOP votes will be available in the House, where it holds a majority.
On a practical level, when REAL ID enforcement finally does occur, the Department of Homeland Security has promised to give at least 120 days notice in Minnesota. At that point REAL ID requirements would be in place at airports and other federal facilities requiring ID (nuclear power plants, prisons). A current passport can usurp REAL ID for travel, and by specific request, the state will issue you a REAL ID–compliant driver’s license.
The upshot is, while REAL ID has been a real political problem, it shouldn’t be a real impediment for Minnesota travelers who plan ahead.
REAL IDs in MN
While most Minnesotans don’t have REAL IDs yet, the state has quietly been offering REAL ID–compliant Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) and Enhanced ID Cards (EID) since early 2014. One reason to snag one now is that as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, Minnesota EDLs and EIDs allow you to travel without a passport to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.
How to Obtain a Minnesota EDL or EID
- Go to any driver’s license exam station and request an enhanced ID
- Pay $15 for the ID itself
- Show proof of identity, full legal name, social security number, photographic ID, proof of Minnesota residency, and proof of U.S. citizenship
- Complete an interview questionnaire
- Allow four to six weeks for processing