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New IDs will be ready next month, but Minnesotans have two years to switch

The new Minnesota REAL ID will look like this. It's similar to the current licenses with the exception of the gold star in the upper right hand corner. Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

ST. PAUL — Minnesotans will be able to apply for a REAL ID-compliant card beginning next month, but they will have two years to obtain one if they choose.

That means Minnesotans will be able to use their standard licenses and ID cards for federal

purposes, including boarding domestic flights and entering federal facilities such as military bases, until Oct. 1, 2020.

Passports, of course, are needed for international flights.

The main purpose of the new ID is to make airline travel more secure and protect federal facilities such as military bases and nuclear plants.

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security informed the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division during a compliance check-in earlier this year that the state was making the necessary progress to comply with federal regulations.

Since there is no need to obtain a REAL ID at this time, state officials are suggesting that residents wait to apply unless they need to change their name or address, or renew their current license. This will help ease the transition to the new card and reduce wait times, said officials.

REAL ID is a federal requirement that establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards.

The only difference in its appearance is a gold star in the upper right hand corner of the license.

The REAL-ID issue was passed by Congress in 2005 following recommendations from the 9/11 Commission that the federal government set more secure standards for identification. Since then, the government said every state has a more secure driver's license than before.