North Carolinians should visit their local Division of Motor Vehicles to get a new driver's license or identification card before May 3, 2023.
On that day, federal agencies will begin to enforce the REAL ID Act. This act requires a REAL ID, United States passport or other federally-approved identification to board all commercial flights and visit secure federal buildings, military bases and nuclear sites.
The North Carolina REAL ID complies with the 2005 REAL ID Act. It is a driver's license or identification card that has a gold star at the top.
“Orange County staff will be developing a media blitz for the N.C. REAL ID in the beginning of 2023, in advance of the due date of May 3, 2023,” Renée Price, chair of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, said in an email. “The role of the County will be to inform the residents, while the N.C. DMV will be responsible for implementation.”
Having an N.C. REAL ID is optional for all N.C. residents who chose to fly, as long as they present alternative documentation.
N.C. residents do not need a REAL ID driver's license or identification card to drive, vote, apply for or receive federal benefits, go to a hospital, serve on a federal jury or testify in federal court.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, the goal is to increase homeland security after the 9/11 Commission's recommendation to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses."
“The TSA outlines other documents or the process in which you can present other documents in order to fly within the United States or access to facilities,” Division of Motor Vehicles Regional Chief Examiner Tonya Faulkner said.
Guidelines to alternative documentation can be found on the Division of Motor Vehicles’ and the TSA's websites.
Any N.C. resident can get an N.C. REAL ID-compliant card by visiting a DMV or scheduling an appointment to do so — as long as they bring additional identification. The required documentation can be found on their website.
When asked how the DMV will address undocumented immigrants wanting to get an N.C. REAL ID, Faulkner restated that the card is optional if they have other forms of identification.
Organizations such as the Refugee Support Center are providing resources for the new form of identification.
“Any kind of paperwork and appointments always affects refugees,” said Flicka Bateman, director of the Refugee Support Center. “We're assisting people as they come to us for applying and helping them get the documentation if they haven't.”
Obtaining a REAL ID could be difficult for out-of-state and international students at UNC.
Some students are concerned about their ability to travel if they do not have the REAL ID or alternative documents before May 3.
“It’ll be a hassle in terms of getting one more thing done while already having a busy schedule,” said Genevieve Holliday, an out-of-state first-year at UNC from Colorado.
Holliday added she finds it problematic that she, alongside many other out-of-state students, did not know the N.C. REAL ID existed. She said that if news of the requirement does not spread, students will face challenges when returning home during holiday breaks.
“I definitely think that if UNC was to send out an email letting students know, that would be fantastic,” Holliday said.
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