IT has been a long time coming, but Illinois and Missouri are now issuing Real ID-compliant driver's licenses, which will be needed to board planes or enter some federally controlled buildings starting next year.
These secure forms of identification soon will become a part of most people's lives, blending into the many "new normal" experiences in our ever-changing world.
Back in 2005 when the Real-ID Act became federal law, many people saw it primarily as a response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The hijackers had obtained identification cards from a variety of states.
The United States was lax in its identification procedures when compared to most European countries.
The years of work to comply with the law were overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, which said the secure identification system also will help block domestic criminals from operating under assumed names.
Illinois has been issuing Real-ID compliant cards since January but only at limited sites. Last week the cards became available at any of the state's licensing facilities.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said applicants for the cards must apply in person and provide documents proving their identity, Social Security number and written signature and two documents showing proof of Illinois residency.
The new cards are marked with a gold star in the top right corner and cost $30, the same as current cards.
"Although we are now issuing Real ID cards, current cards will be valid for domestic air travel until Oct. 1, 2020. Therefore, there is no rush to apply for a Real ID card," White said.
The Missouri Department of Revenue started issuing Real ID cards last Monday. Missouri is among the last states to comply with the law. In 2009, former Gov. Jay Nixon signed a measure prohibiting the state from complying with the federal law. Lawmakers did not move to strike down that law until 2017, with some expressing concerns about the privacy of applicants.
Both Illinois and Missouri allow residents to seek Real ID cards or noncompliant cards. Those without compliant cards would need to present passports or some other form of federally issued identification to board commercial airplanes or enter military bases, federal facilities or nuclear plants. Those restrictions will start in October 2020.
The noncompliant cards offer a compromise for those people who want to limit the amount of personal information in federal databases.
Unfortunately, there's only so much anyone can do to limit the amount of personal information that's available online from websites that have no connection to the government.