Who Do You Think You Are?

Real ID

Image by Pasja1000 on Pixabay

Do you have a REAL ID? No, I’m not talking about your state driver’s license, your Social Security card, or your birth certificate. I’m talking about the state-issued identification card that is actually called your REAL ID.

After the horrific events of 9/11, our government began a process of creating tighter standards for people to obtain a valid source of personal identification. The REAL ID Act, passed in 2005 by Congress, has taken many years to get every state on board and to set up the tight restrictions to obtain the identification card. As Homeland Security’s site advises, they wanted to “implement the Act in a measured, fair, and responsible way.”

Here are the instances you will need a REAL ID: if you want or need to access Federal facilities or a nuclear power plant and to board federally regulated commercial aircraft. OK, so not many of us will ever enter a nuclear power plant, but many of us need to access Federal facilities, and at some point, most of us will get on a plane.

Well, after October 1, 2020 (14 months from now), you will need a REAL ID or a valid passport to board an airplane. So, OK, if you have a valid passport, you won’t need the REAL ID as long as you are willing (and remember) to schlep along your passport every time you fly within the US.

Here’s a portion of a recent press release:  The Transportation Security Administration is reminding travelers that beginning October 1, 2020, every traveler must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, or another acceptable form of identification, to fly within the United States.

Here’s some advice: If you haven’t already gotten your REAL ID, do it now. Because (at least in Virginia) it’s a little complicated, especially if you’re a woman who has been divorced and remarried and taken your spouse’s last name.

I thought I was all set when I went to the DMV today. I had my social security card, my driver’s license, my official VITAL STATISTICS Pennsylvania birth certificate, a copy of my mortgage statement, a copy of a credit card statement, and my Prince George’s County Maryland marriage license.

Nope. The marriage license, which actually looked very official, complete with seal and a license number, was not the VITAL STATISTICS copy. So for another $12 and copies of more proof of who-do-you-think-you-are-asking-for-this? documentation, I will mail the request for the official license tomorrow.

But something told me that I should read a little more deeply on the Virginia DMV site to make sure that the marriage certificate was all I was missing. And apparently, I will also need to dig up the divorce decree from when I separated from my (ever) philandering high school sweetheart, may he rest in peace. The DMV did not tell me that today, so I would have wasted another trip. Because here’s the deal: the DMV needs to see official paperwork on the events that changed my birth name to the name I have now.

My guess is that most states will have similar stipulations in place. You can find your state’s information by searching for REAL ID and your state’s name.

I’m not really complaining, even though it likely sounds as if I am. I do get it; the government wants to make sure that I really am who I say I am.

And when I finally have jumped through the hurdles, my REAL ID will be a Virginia’s driver license with a star in the upper right corner.


The REAL ID Dept. of Homeland Security website

Virginia’s DMV site of REAL ID FAQs


8 thoughts on “Who Do You Think You Are?

  1. Betsy Cramer says:

    I have to say this, Norma, and wonder if any of your other readers have thought about it. All of this with the Real ID, which I do understand the reasoning, reminds me of the fact that in the Nazi era of Germany, as I understand it, people had to show their documentation to move/travel around to certain places and the Jews had to be marked with the Star of David. When in concentration camps, others held there were then marked with various colored triangles to determine why they had been put there; for example, a purple triangle was used for “Bible Students.” I looked up this information and much more not stated to respond to this blog, making me even more nervous as to where all this could be leading…especially considering the political issues in our country currently. I see the possibility of us becoming very restricted in our movements over time just as the people in Germany were during those Nazi years. Any comments from out there???

    • Norma Thatcher says:

      I think you should write a novel based on this premise. I understand the need to identify the “bad people” who have falsely obtained credentials in America, but I wonder if the powers that be understood the difficulty it would be for women who have married and divorced and not maintained their maiden name throughout it all. Hours!!!!

  2. judy jones says:

    Who in the world knows this besides you, Norma?
    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the wake-up call!!!!!!!

    • Norma Thatcher says:

      I have spent HOURS trying to just find out how to obtain an Oklahoma marriage certificate from eloping over 50 years ago as well as how to get the Maryland divorce decree that ended that marriage. This is one of the most frustrating activities I have ever done.

  3. Judy Jones says:

    It’s the DMV!
    Just show them your current marriage license. I doubt that they will check anything !

    • Norma Thatcher says:

      Nope. For this REAL ID, they are looking at everything. I even called the DMV in Richmond and asked: So if I was married six times and divorced five times, I’d need six marriage certificates and five divorce decrees? The answer was YES.

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