The new licenses that D.C. began implementing in November.

The D.C. DMV has changed its messaging after initially announcing that D.C. residents would need to take a trip to the DMV soon to renew their licenses or identification cards.

“Our initial process clearly seemed to cause confusion the way we were messaging,” said DMV director Lucinda Babers. “So we backed off to say, ‘Stop panicking!’ ”

The confusion was over whether or not every D.C. resident would have to update his or her credential by January — no matter if it had expired or not — to get something called a REAL ID, in accordance with a 2005 law that created federal standards for state issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Despite the original message, the answer is no.

There are only two things you need to know, says Babers.

First: If you already have a D.C. issued credential — either a driver’s license or an identification card —you can use it, just as you have been, until it expires.

Second: Beginning May 1, if you go to the DMV to get or renew a credential you’ll need to bring more documentation than you have in the past. You’ll have to bring proof of identity, proof of social security number and proof of residence in order to get your REAL ID.

It’s still true that REAL ID enforcement goes into effect for entering federal buildings beginning on January 19, 2015 and for flying domestically no sooner than 2016 (although you can still use a passport, too).

However, Babers said, once D.C. begins issuing REAL IDS, “we become what’s called a REAL ID compliant jurisdiction.” That means that any license or identification issued in D.C. will be accepted, even if it was issued before May 1.

“You’re still gonna be okay to enter the federal buildings and board planes,” Babers said, so long as your credential hasn’t expired.

When it does expire, even if it’s 8 years from now, you’ll have to bring proof of identity, proof of social security number and proof of residence with you to the DMV to get it renewed.

Confusion began earlier this month, when the DMV website said that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would require a REAL ID to enter federal buildings after October 1 and require a REAL ID to board domestic flights by October of 2016. In fact, the DHS plans to roll out the phase for entry to federal buildings on Jan. 19 and the phase for flights “no sooner than 2016.”

Babers said the DMV was just trying to get the word out to those that will need to obtain credentials after May 1 that they will need to bring more documentation with them. “Everybody else got in the way and kept raising their hands and kept saying what about me?” Babers said.

Babers said she spoke with representatives at DHS and confirmed that all District credentials would be accepted until their expiration. “It’s what other jurisdictions are also doing,” she said.


EarlierStarting next month, all D.C. licenses will need to be replaced. Yes, all of them.
Everything you need to know about the D.C. license changeover

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