The federally mandated REAL ID takes effect on Oct. 1.

Real ID

Image from Tenn. Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security.

That means you will need a new driver’s license if you intend to fly domestically, go into a federal facility or some federal installations.

You do not need a REAL ID to drive, vote, purchase alcohol or cigarettes, access hospitals, visit the post office, enter federal courts or to apply for or receive federal benefits.

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”

The act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the act’s minimum standards.

Several documents are needed to verify your residency:

1. Proof of citizenship or legal presence.

2. Proof of Tennessee residence.

3. Proof of your social security number.

Types of documents you can bring to prove your citizenship include:

1. A birth certificate.

2. Unexpired U.S. passport.

3. A valid permanent residence card.

If you have changed your name for marriage or divorce, bring either a marriage certificate or a divorce decree.

To prove your social security number, bring either:

1. Your original Social Security card.

2. W-2 form within the last year.

To prove your address or residence, you’ll need to bring two documents:

1. A home utility bill.

2. A current Tennessee registration.

3. A bank statement.

4. A mortgage statement.

If you have a regular Tennessee driver’s license, about to expire or not, and you want to upgrade it to a Real ID, you’ll need to go to a driver’s license center in person and take the documents to prove your residency and who you are.

For example, you can bring a birth certificate, social security card, current utility bill, and your regular driver’s license. You have to bring a total of four documents with you to upgrade your ID.

It costs between $8 and $12 depending on the type of license you need.

To get a REAL ID in Shelby County visit the County Clerk’s office at 150 Washington Monday-Friday from 8-4:15. For other locations visit the clerk’s website at

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