SCDMV officials urge upgrading to REAL ID soon to avoid long wait times

Updated: Dec. 18, 2020 at 7:07 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle say now may be your best opportunity to upgrade your license to a REAL ID.

The federal government extended the state’s deadline to start enforcing the Federal Real ID Act to October 1, 2021 because of challenges associated with COVID and other factors.

However, the executive director of SCDMV said license holders really only have until January 15th to upgrade their identification if they want to avoid the rush SCDMV offices see during tax time and any rush associated with REAL ID procrastinators later next year.

“Your best opportunity to get a REAL ID is really today until about the fifteenth of January, then we are going to have capacity issues until after the tax season,” SCDMV’s Kevin Shwedo said.

At this time, he does not anticipate the federal government will grant another deadline extension.

“I cannot read the writing on the wall as to what it looks like in June, July and August,” Shwedo said. “If we don’t have a tremendous surge because people are still going to procrastinate, we’ll have plenty of capacity. But if everybody comes in and wants that REAL ID in the last three months going into the deadline, we will run into our capacity issues.”

Shwedo said current trends show SCDMV offices are issuing 50,000 credentials per month. If that continues, only 48 percent of the state’s population will have a REAL ID.

Documents needed to buy a REAL ID include all of the following:

· Proof of Identity (Government-issued birth certificate or valid US Passport)

· Proof of Social Security Number

· Two Proofs of Current, Physical SC Address

· Proof of all Legal Name Changes

Photocopies, notarized photocopies, and non-government-issued copies are not accepted. The only exception to this is proof of address documents, according to an SCDMV press release.

South Carolinians should also note that it is now more difficult for South Carolinians to purchase their REAL ID licenses online.

“South Carolina Act #220 of 2018 takes effect in October which requires a vision screening to renew a driver’s license. South Carolinians who want to take advantage of online purchasing must have a vision screening on file with the SCDMV, submitted via an electronic portal by their eye care professional, to purchase a REAL ID license online,” an SCDMV press release stated.

As of Oct. 1, 2021, South Carolinians must have a REAL ID to board a domestic, commercial flight, enter a secure federal building, or visit a military installation unless you have a valid US Passport, military ID, or another accepted form of federal identification. A regular REAL ID license is $25.

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