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In recent years, the REAL ID Act has been a topic of discussion for many Americans. This federal law, passed by Congress in 2005, establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Beginning May 3, 2023, only the REAL ID will be accepted to access federal facilities, enter nuclear power plants, and, most notably, board federally regulated commercial aircraft.

If you’re an Alabama resident, here’s what you need to know about obtaining a REAL ID:

1. Requirements for Obtaining a REAL ID in Alabama

To get a REAL ID in Alabama, you must provide documentation proving your:

  • Identity and Legal Status: Such as a U.S. birth certificate, a valid U.S. passport, or a certificate of naturalization or citizenship
  • Social Security Number: A Social Security card or a W-2 form will suffice.
  • Alabama Residency (Two Proofs Required): Examples include a utility bill, rental agreement, or bank statement.
  • Name Change (if applicable): If your current name doesn’t match the one on your proof of identity document, you’ll need to provide legal documentation of the name change, like a marriage certificate or court order.

2. Fees for REAL ID

The cost for obtaining a REAL ID in Alabama is:

  • First-time issuance: $36.25
  • Renewal: $36.25
  • Replacement: $31.25

Note: Prices may vary slightly based on the county of issuance.

3. Processing Times

After submitting all the required documents and paying the fee, the processing time for a REAL ID in Alabama is typically:

  • In-Person: If you apply in person, you’ll receive a temporary paper ID. Your actual REAL ID-compliant card will be mailed to you and should arrive within 30 days.
  • Online Renewals: If you’re eligible to renew your license online, the processing might be faster. However, first-time REAL ID applicants must visit in person.

4. Alternatives to REAL ID for Domestic Travel

If you don’t have a REAL ID by the deadline, don’t fret. There are alternative documents accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for domestic travel:

  • U.S. Passport or Passport Card: A valid U.S. passport can be used for both domestic and international travel.
  • Department of Defense ID: Issued to military members and their dependents.
  • DHS Trusted Traveler Card: Such as Global Entry or NEXUS.
  • Permanent Resident Card: Issued to legal permanent residents of the U.S.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, while the REAL ID is becoming a standard requirement for various federal purposes, including domestic air travel, there are alternative documents you can use. However, if you wish to use your state-issued ID for these purposes, ensure you upgrade to a REAL ID before the deadline. Visit your local Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) office to start the process. Safe travels!

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