Iowa residents now have the option of applying for a REAL ID, which can be obtained after federal security standards are met.
Iowa began issuing REAL IDs Tuesday, with Plymouth County's Driver's License (DL) department starting today (Wednesday) during regular office hours.
"Anybody can come in and do it, if they choose to," said Kerri Borchers, county driver's license deputy. "If they have a valid driver's license right now, it will cost $1."
People whose driver's licenses are ready for renewal may choose the REAL ID option for the same $20 renewal fee, Borchers said.
Linda Dobson, Plymouth County treasurer in charge of driver's licensing, explained that a 2005 federal act led to the issuance of REAL IDs.
That law set requirements for state DLs and identification (ID) cards to be accepted for "official purposes," which include boarding commercial airline flights, entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants.
To obtain REAL IDs people must present their birth certificate, social security card and two forms to prove residency.
Those documents are scanned into the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) driver's license system and attached to the individual's file, Borchers explained.
"The license with the REAL ID isn't going to go out unless all those documents are verified," she said.
People can choose to keep their current driver's license as enforcement of REAL IDs for "official purposes" has not yet begun.
It will be effective Dec. 1, 2014 for people born after Dec. 1, 1964 and Dec. 1, 2017 for people born on or before Dec. 1, 1964.
"These are the dates the federal people, who are inspecting, are going to start asking for REAL ID," Dobson said.
The federally approved REAL ID will look similar to the current DL or ID card, except for one main difference -- a gold star in the upper right corner.
"When somebody who's checking you sees that star, they know what documents you've produced," Dobson said. "It's just an added security."
Plymouth County will continue to receive $7 of the $20 state licensing fee to issue REAL IDs.
"The staff we have will be able to handle this," Dobson said. "There will be more time involved per customer because of checking documents and scanning them."
She said a recent decision by the state to provide Plymouth County with a second driver's license issuance terminal will help speed the process.
"We are scheduled to get one hopefully this month sometime," Dobson said. "We've been asking for years."
The state also provided all equipment such as document scanners for processing REAL IDs, which means no additional costs to counties, she said.
REAL IDs may not only be beneficial in security clearance when flying or entering federal buildings, but also as individual protection, Dobson said.
"It's also for identity theft and fraud," she said.
Initially, REAL IDs were to be implemented immediately with the 2005 act, but cost prohibited states from complying, Dobson said.
"Iowa was very aggressive in the beginning with it and has been on target to become compliant with it," she said. "There are some states that still aren't on board with it."
When it comes to issuing REAL IDs, it will be up to customers to decide if that's the right choice for them, Borchers said.
"That is not one of the questions we are going to ask when they come in to renew. If they request it, then we'll do it," she said. "It's an option they present to us."
For more information about REAL ID, log onto the DOT's website, www.iowadot.gov/mvd/realid/faq.html.