What’s the NJ Real ID? Plus What You Need to Know About Obtaining One and If It’s Compliant

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If you have ever wanted to be Twitter or Instagram verified, the NJ Real ID might just be the closest that you get. {Unless you amass thousands of followers overnight, then good on ya!} The new New Jersey driver’s license/ID is called the NJ Real ID and starting October 1, 2021, every New Jersey resident will need one in order to fly anywhere in the U.S.

Whether you’ve never even heard of the NJ Real ID or have been following each individual update on the ID as things have changed, the window to obtain an NJ Real ID is running out. Here’s everything you need to know about what the NJ Real ID is, how to get one, whether it’s compliant, and why it’s necessary.

domestic flight nj real id

What’s the NJ Real ID?

According to New Jersey Motor Vehicles Department {NJMVD},the NJ Real ID is a driver’s license or non-driver ID that looks almost exactly like the old ID, but features a yellow star in the upper righthand corner. This differs from the standard license or ID in that the standard one has the words “Not for ‘Real ID’ purposes” printed in the upper right corner.

The Real ID meets the federal requirement for state-issued driver’s licenses and non-driver IDs that, starting on October 1st, will be necessary for boarding flights throughout the U.S.

How to get the NJ Real ID

The only way to obtain the NJ Real ID is to make an appointment at RealIDNJ.com. If your REAL ID Appointment was canceled due to Agency closure, keep your cancellation email. When we re-open, you can bring this email to any Licensing Center and get a REAL ID without an appointment.

You’ll be required to fill out a form, then get a follow-up email asking whether you want to participate in the testing at the eight agencies after signing up, according to Patch. This part might be a bit confusing; that’s because the Real IDs have had to undergo a testing process to ensure that they work and scan, etc. After testing, the Motor Vehicle Commission {MVC} will determine if your Real ID works at one of its eight agencies. Then you’re ready to get your ID.

The MVC estimates that an in-house ID appointment at an agency should take about 20 minutes. To get your Real ID, you will need to bring:

  • — Two proofs of your residential address 

  • — One proof of your Social Security Number 

  • — Six points of ID

If you’re unsure about which proofs of address/SSN/and points of ID are, you can check out the Document Selector Tool. The Document Selector Tool is an interactive tool in which you can select each of the types of proof you need.

Some examples of proofs of residence you can bring {remember: you’ll need two} include a valid NJ driver’s license or non-driver identification card, utility or credit card bill issued in the past 90 days, checking or savings account statement from a bank or credit union issued within the past 60 days, original and unexpired lease or rental agreement, tax bill, statement, receipt and/or letter of correspondence received from the IRS or tax office within the past year, first class mail from any government agency within the past six months, and/or if you are under the age of 18, a statement from a parent/guardian certifying address of applicant.

For proof of your SSN, bring your social security card, W-2 form issued within the past year, pay stub with full name and SSN, or 1099 form issued within the past year.

Lastly, you’ll need any number of identity documents that add up to 6 Real ID points. {Note: point values for Real IDs are different than for your standard IDs.}  Options for 6 Real ID point combinations include one primary document—an unexpired U.S. passport or passport card, U.S. or U.S. Territory birth certificate copy filed with a state office, U.S. Department of State birth certificate, U.S. Department of State Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citzenship, Current Permanent Resident Card, unexpired foreign passport with valid visa and I-94, currrent photo employment authorization card, or a Current Permanent Resident card issued by INS without an expiration date—or a combination of secondary documents that add up to six Real ID points.

passport real id

Check out Real ID Selector for more info on how to select documents.

What is different about the NJ Real ID?

The NJ Real ID meets the U.S.’s federal requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses and non-driver IDs that, starting on October 1st, will be necessary for boarding flights throughout the U.S.

The NJ Real ID looks like your standard driver’s license or ID; however, it features a gold star in the upper right corner. Comparatively, the standard license or ID looks exactly the same, but instead of the gold star, features the words “Not for ‘Real ID’ purposes” written on it.

While both the standard driver’s license and NJ Real ID driver’s license are valid for driving a vehicle, only the NJ Real ID is valid for boarding any domestic flight in the U.S. In the event that you do not upgrade to an NJ Real ID, you will only be able to board a domestic flight using a valid U.S. passport or military ID.

It costs $11 to change your standard NJ driver’s license or non-driver ID to an NJ Real ID, if not done at your normal renewal time.

Other things to know about NJ Real ID

In the event that your current driver’s license or non-driver ID expires after September 30, 2020, you can wait to get an NJ Real ID at your regular renewal time. If not, you should apply for an NJ Real ID prior to Sept. 30.

As we get closer to the deadline, wait times are getting longer. To avoid a long wait at an MVC agency, the MVC recommends visiting the agency in the middle of the month, according to Patch.

You also might be wondering: Why do we have to change to the Real ID anyway? It’s a federal requirement due to security purposes, as explained by The Real ID Act of 2005. The Act, which is part of Homeland Security, seeks to protect access to federal facilities, nuclear power plant access, and boarding federally regulated commercial aircrafts.

Identification documents used to obtain the Real ID will be verified, then if necessary, shared with the federal government, according to RealIDNJ.com. The MVC will scan the documents, then securely store them via encryption.

Why? According to the website, “Yes. Your identification documents will be verified and, under certain circumstances, shared with the federal government. You can find out more by visiting the website DHS website… It is a federal requirement for security purposes that we scan the documents and keep them securely stored in an encrypted format.”

Is NJ Real ID compliant?

Yes, the NJ Real ID is compliant with federal regulations for identification as put forth by the Real ID Act. According to the Department of Homeland Security‘s website, “New Jersey is compliant with the REAL ID Act. Federal agencies can accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from New Jersey at Federal facilities, nuclear power plants and federally regulated commercial aircraft.”

The website adds, “Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy. Law enforcement must be able to rely on government-issued identification documents and know that the bearer of such a document is who he or she claims to be. REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the Federal Government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents, which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”

What does NJ Real ID look like?

The NJ Real ID looks exactly like your standard driver’s license or non-driver ID, except that there is a gold star in the upper right hand corner. Standard IDs will not have this star; instead, they will say “Not for ‘Real ID’ purposes.”

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Stephanie Osmanski writes honest things about health, the planet, and being a woman. Her words have appeared on Business Insider, Parade, Eat This Not That, Dogster, Scary Mommy, Green Matters, Parents, Seventeen, Life & Style, InTouch Weekly, and more. Her articles have been syndicated on World Economic Forum, MSN, MSN UK, and MSN Canada. In her free time, Stephanie and her registered therapy dog, Koda, volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.