By Russ and Tiña De Maris
[UPDATE: The deadline has been extended to October 1, 2021.] October 1, 2020, could be a critical date for fulltime RVers. On that not-too-distant date, anyone wanting access into most commercial airports, federal buildings or military bases will need to have a federally approved identification. Got a U.S. passport? You’re set. For U.S. residents, if you don’t have a passport, you’ll need an approved state-issued driver’s license or ID card. But beware, not every driver’s license will meet the test.
It all hails back to a federal law passed in 2005, the “REAL ID Act,” which was established to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” It’s taken a long time for all the states to come in-line with these federal standards, and since there are 50 states (and a handful of other jurisdictions), each with its own way of looking at things, it can be a bit difficult. But suffice to say, if you don’t have a license or ID that meets Uncle Sam’s standards, you won’t be getting into the airport or other federally controlled I.D.-required areas without one.
How do you know if your driver’s license or ID card is “Real ID” compliant? In most instances, your license or ID will have a gold star on it. That’s the federal shorthand for compliance. A few states have met the compliance requirements but, for whatever reason, don’t put a gold star on the license. Nicely confusing, eh? In that case, you’ll need to contact the issuing state’s DMV to inquire if you meet “Real ID” compliance or not.
Now here’s a big giveaway that your license IS NOT “Real ID” compliant: Ones that are marked “Not for Federal Identification” or “Federal Limits Apply” are not compliant. Those IDs will definitely keep you out of airports and other controlled facilities come October 2020.
So what’s the big deal for fulltime RVers? To apply for a “Real ID,” proof of residence is required. For most of the states, having your mail delivered to a private mailbox service or post office box DOES NOT meet the requirements of “proof of residence.” Step into most any state’s DMV office and apply for one of these IDs and you’ll likely be asked to provide two proofs of residence. Often this translates to a rent receipt, a property tax statement, or a utility bill, with a valid residential address printed on the chit. If you’re a fulltiming RVer, it’s not likely you’ll have these proofs.
What’s to be done? Nevada is one state that recognizes the predicament. DMV officials will be happy to issue a Real ID, provided you can meet the residency test by providing a rent receipt from an RV park, showing both a street address and site number. But here’s the hang – you’ll need to have a receipt for at least a 30-day continuous stay. That can be pretty spendy and a hard lump to swallow for boondocking fans.
But you’re still not over the hurdle – Nevada (like many states) requires TWO proofs. What to do for the other? That’s where it can get sticky. The only suggestion we can make is transfer your cell phone bill, your credit card or bank statement address to the RV park for that time period. Arizona is one state that allows just one “proof” statement and allows you to sign an affidavit of residency to take care of the other one.
Sad to say, there’s no clear-cut and easy answer to many of the difficulties raised. With differing states and differing government “personalities,” you’ll need to do your own research for whatever state it is you call “home.” And with that date coming up, and considering the nature of bureaucracy, you’d best get started now.