By John Dowd 

Real ID deadline extended to 2021


2020 is proving to be a hectic year, with the coronavirus threat and with elections on the way, but an overlooked shadow on the horizon is the deadline for Montanans to get their Real ID cards. The deadline of October 2020 has now been extended to January 2021, because of the epidemic. It will also be difficult for locals to get appointments as the courthouse and other government buildings will be closed to the public until the nationwide crisis subsides. That being said, there are still a few things locals need to know about getting their driver’s licenses updated.

The first thing of note is that the Star ID, or Real ID, is not required. Residents can update their driver’s licenses as they normally would without an extra charge. However, they will no longer be able to fly commercially, enter certain government buildings or step foot on military bases without a passport after the deadline. The concept of the Real ID is to provide an extra level of security “permission” to those with the golden star on the top of their driver’s license.

For someone to get their Real ID, they must first set up an appointment at the courthouse through the state Motor Vehicle Division. Then the person must bring several items to document their identity by providing proof of residency of Montana: their social security number, their name and date of birth and authorization to be in the United States. These items are scanned at the appointment. Such documents may include: a passport, birth certificate, social security card, lease agreement, motor vehicle registration, pay stubs or tax forms, utility or cable bill and a voter registration card, according to the state website A person will be required to prove the information by bringing at least four documents: one proving identity, date of birth and lawful status, two proving address and one proving social security number.

At the appointment, the resident will be required to have their photograph taken and will have to fill out an application. The applicant must also appear in person and cannot have someone go through this process for them, even in the case of youth. It is also important to recognize that minors are not required to show identification to fly.

The updated license, with the Real ID certification, will cost $50 for the first time an applicant receives their ID. Documents such as tribal IDs and military IDs cannot be used as documents to prove identity, date of birth and lawful status. Appointments can take up to an hour, so it is important for interested locals to make appropriate time for their appointment.


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