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REAL ID: Upgrade to ND driver’s licenses set for later this month

A gold star is added to the upper right hand corner of a REAL ID driver's license. Photo courtesy North Dakota Department of Transportation

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — People renewing a driver's license later this month can opt for a "REAL ID" that meets new federal guidelines, according to Glenn Jackson, director of the driver's license division of the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

"As of Oct. 1, 2020, if you don't have a REAL ID credential you will not be able to board a domestic flight or enter a military or federal installation," he said.

The REAL ID licenses and identification cards will be available through the Jamestown driver's license office starting May 25 and at all North Dakota driver's license offices by June 1. A REAL ID driver's license or identification card includes a gold star in the upper right hand corner to differentiate it from a standard driver's license.

Jackson said applicants for a REAL ID will need to supply more information.

"The difference is in the things we do to make sure the person who holds that document is who they say (they) are and that the data is secure," he said. "The cost is the same."

While people have the option of continuing with a standard driver's license, they will need to produce three types of documents to upgrade to the REAL ID, Jackson said.

The first requirement is documentation of identity. Jackson said many people may use a certified copy of a birth certificate. The birth certificate can not be a photocopy but must be the original or a certified copy issued by a government. If the person's name has changed since the birth certificate was issued, it must be accompanied by documentation of the name change such as a certified marriage certificate, certificate of adoption or a court order changing the person's name.

Other identifications can be a valid U.S. passport, a valid foreign passport with an I-94 admission form, certification of naturalization, certification of citizenship or valid residence of employment authorization cards.

Along with proof of who they are, people applying for a REAL ID will need to confirm their Social Security Number. This can be done with an original Social Security card, a W-2 tax form, a Social Security Administration 1099 form or an employee pay stub that includes the person's name and complete Social Security number.

The third type of document necessary to receive a REAL ID is proof of North Dakota residence, Jackson said. There are 12 types of documents accepted and listed at the website People will need to provide two documents that include the person's name and physical address. Post office box address are not accepted and all documents must be original rather than copies.

In the case of minor children, the parents signature as a sponsor including the address where the children live is sufficient, Jackson said.

Jackson said all the documents will be scanned during the REAL ID application process. The scanned copies will be maintained in state files so that it would not be necessary to produce the same documents to renew the license and REAL ID in the future.

"This data is state data," he said. "It is not shared with anyone other than is required by law."

While the REAL ID program has been in the planning stages in North Dakota since 2008, the final step of issuing the REAL ID was authorized by the 2017 N.D. Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum. The law included an exemption of the scanned documents from the public record making them unobtainable for non-official purposes, Jackson said.

Jackson said the option of a REAL ID is available to people renewing their driver's license or identification card. The cost of renewal for a standard driver's license or a REAL ID is $15. People who are not scheduled to renew their driver's license but wish to upgrade to a REAL ID can do so for an $8 fee.

Jackson said for convenience, people should have all necessary documents organized when they make an appointment to renew their driver's license. A complete list of the requirements is available at