For those itching to travel after a year of staying close to home, an important deadline is approaching: the federal REAL ID enforcement deadline. And just like planning the perfect trip, getting a REAL ID will take some time.

Beginning Oct. 1, Minnesotans will not be able to use their standard driver’s license or ID card to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities. Instead, they will need a passport or passport card, a REAL ID or an enhanced driver's license or ID.

“Minnesotans who already have a passport or passport card have what they need to fly or enter federal facilities now and after Oct. 1,” said Emma Corrie, Driver and Vehicle Services director. “Those who don’t plan on flying this year may choose to wait and apply for a REAL ID at a later time. The important thing to know is there are options, and we want to make sure Minnesotans are informed and prepared.”

As of Feb. 17, DVS was processing REAL ID as well as standard licenses and ID card applications from Jan. 22, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division. Enhanced driver's licenses and ID cards from Jan. 27 were being processed at the same time.

More than 3.85 million Minnesotans are standard driver's license and ID card holders. About 20% of Minnesotan driver's license and identification card holders are REAL ID compliant, having either a REAL ID or an enhanced driver's license or ID.

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Drivers can pre-apply for a REAL ID or an enhanced driver's license or ID card before completing the application process in person. Pre-applying can help avoid the headache of showing up without the necessary documents, which are many. A person applying for a REAL ID must bring one document proving identity, date of birth and legal presence in the United States; one document proving their Social Security number; and two different documents proving current residency in Minnesota.

Federal and Minnesota laws require a person submit their original required documents, pass a vision screening and have a new photo taken to complete their application.

Why do I need a REAL ID?

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act that established minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards. You need it to board a domestic flights or enter a federal facility. You can also use it to cross the border by land or by sea to Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean countries.

How do I get it?

Getting a REAL ID requires more documentation than a regular identification card.

You need to provide one document proving your identity, date of birth and legal presence in the U.S. Those documents can include: a valid U.S. passport; original or certified copy of a U.S. or U.S. Territory birth certificate; valid, unexpired permanent resident card; or an unexpired employment authorization document.

One document proving your Social Security number. That can be your social security card, federal W2 or a computer-printed U.S. employment pay stub with name, address and social security number.

Two different documents proving your current residency in Minnesota. Those documents can include a valid Minnesota driver's license, instruction permit or an identification card with your current address listed; home utility bill issued no more than 12 months before application; employment pay stub that lists employer's name and address; Minnesota unemployment insurance benefit statement; or a valid license issued pursuant to the game and fish laws.

Where do I get it?

You can pre-apply for a REAL ID at drive.mn.gov, but you will still need to visit a driver and vehicle services office to finish your request.

You can also apply for a REAL ID at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport's Terminal 1. An appointment is necessary for the office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and you must be scheduled to fly out of the airport that day.