Be ready with proper documents when renewing driver’s license

  • STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION A sample of image from January 2018 of how the new REAL ID-compliant Hawaii driver’s license looks.

Those renewing their driver’s licenses should ensure they have the required documents to do so.

Starting in January 2018, licenses began bearing a star in a gold circle, which means the license is in full compliance with new federal guidelines.

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security mandated that all driver’s licenses used to board flights and enter all federal buildings must have a gold star mark by Oct. 1, 2020.

To obtain the gold star driver’s licenses, which indicates the license is REAL ID compliant, drivers must present a U.S. state or local government-issued birth certificate or valid U.S. passport or passport card; an unlaminated Social Security card showing current name; for married women who changed their names, a certified government-issued marriage certificate showing the name on birth certificate; and two documents showing their physical address, such as a Hawaii Electric Light Co. bill.

Individuals who use a post office box number should submit one document with the post office box number and one document with their physical address.

Names also should match on every document.

County Vehicle Registration and License Division Administrator Naomi O’Dell said a birth certificate proves citizenship, “so that has to be a certified copy,” and whatever name is on that should match the name on an individual’s Social Security card.

Women who have gotten married will need to bring in a certified copy of the wedding license, she said.

While the gold star marking does mean licenses and state IDs are REAL ID compliant, O’Dell said Hawaii licenses have long been compliant with the new federal guidelines.

“We’ve been REAL ID compliant for a while,” she said, adding the state began requiring documents proving identity in 2012 and residency in 2014.

The requirements aren’t new, but might surprise those renewing their licenses this year.

“We still have residents of Hawaii that are renewing for the first time, so it is new for them because we’re on an eight-year cycle,” O’Dell said. “Anybody who renewed their licenses in 2011, they’re renewing it now (and) renewing it under the REAL ID law for the first time. It is difficult for some of them, because they don’t realize you have to bring in all these documents.”

Driver’s permits also are being issued with gold stars, she said.

Additionally, O’Dell said individuals can only have one REAL ID-compliant document, meaning that if someone has a state ID and a driver’s license “you would need to declare which one of them you want to be your REAL ID-compliant card.”

One Hilo traveler also warned of possible complications for those who renewed their licenses but plan to fly before their permanent licenses arrive.

Rick LaMontagne said he renewed his license in April and received a temporary paper license.

At that time, LaMontagne said he was told that if he was going to travel before his permanent, plastic license arrived via the mail, he should travel with further proof of his identity, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card.

When he flew to Oahu on May 1, his temporary license, birth certificate and Social Security card were not enough, and he had to use a credit card to further verify his identity.

LaMontagne said he then also had to go through a full-body pat-down, and his carry-on bags were fully searched.

He went through the same process when returning to the Big Island a week later.

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For more information about the REAL ID Act, visit dhs.gov/real-id.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.