South Carolinians should be able to use their current driver’s licenses to board commercial airplanes, access Fort Jackson and other military bases, or enter federal buildings for another three years, said Kevin Shwedo, executive director of the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
That’s because the state is expected to finally meet new federal requirements for driver’s licenses by March. If state officials meet that timeline, they believe the Department of Homeland Security will accept all current S.C. driver’s licenses through Sept. 30, 2020, for boarding commercial airlines and entering federal installations.
The state has faced several deadlines during the last several years to upgrade its driver’s licenses to comply with federal ID requirements, called REAL ID. The requirements are intended to improve security at federal installations and airports, but South Carolina officials — led by the Legislature — had refused to comply because of concerns about the federal government overreaching its authority.
Because of the foot-dragging, the federal government had threatened to no longer accept South Carolina driver’s licenses for boarding planes or entering military facilities or federal buildings. Instead, a federal passport or other federal ID would have been required. The latest deadline to comply is Oct. 10, but Shwedo believes it will be extended through at least March.
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Shwedo said the state will begin issuing driver’s licenses that meet the federal standards by March. If it does, the federal government likely will agree to accept current, valid driver’s licenses for another three years even if the licenses are not REAL ID compliant, he said.
“I truly believe we will be fully compliant right after the first of the year,” Shwedo said.
However, REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses will be required beginning Oct. 1, 2020, to enter military installations, federal buildings or board commercial aircraft.
To obtain a compliant ID, a resident must provide all of the following documents:
▪ Two documents showing a current South Carolina address, such as a pay stub and a recent water bill.
▪ Proof of U.S. citizenship, identity and date of birth, such as a birth certificate or valid passport.
▪ Proof of Social Security number, such as a Social Security card or a W-2 Form.
▪ If applicable, documents supporting a legal name change, such as a marriage license, divorce decree or court order. A valid passport can be submitted instead of these name-change documents.
Nearly a million South Carolinians have already provided this information to the DMV. Since November 2010, the DMV has required the documents for people receiving a new driver’s license, beginner’s permit or identification card. Also, anyone who moved into the state and received a driver’s license after November 2010 should have already provided the documents.
However, anyone who renewed their license — or changed their name or address — probably will have to provide the information.
Since May 15, 2017, more than 37,000 South Carolinians have provided the documents to the DMV to become REAL ID ready, said DMV director of communications Lauren Phillips.
Shwedo said those who provide the documents early will avoid long lines later, as they can apply for a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license online and receive it by mail. Estimates are that when the deadline for receiving a compliant license gets closer, lines could be as long as 6.5 hours.
“It will save a lot of time,” Shwedo said.
However those seeking commercial driver’s licenses or state identification cards will still have to go to a DMV branch.
To confirm whether the agency has the proper documents from you, call 803-896-5000. The documents can be submitted at any DMV branch,