I recently decided I would get a jump on what will surely be a last minute surge of people racing to get the REAL-ID drivers licenses. While you have a year before your current driver’s license will not be valid for identification at any major US airport or government installation (October, 2020), don’t delay your attempts too long.

The following are tips to heed to avoid my mistakes. I learned the hard way, and it took me two trips to the DMV to receive my new license.

TIP #1: Plan on at least two to three hours for the process – maybe even longer. I went to the DMV office midweek at 3:00 in the afternoon and left with a temporary paper license at 5:30. The closer it gets to October of next year, the longer the wait times will be. Bring a book or a fully charged phone. You’ll need it. Suggestion: If you can get to the DMV office about 15 minutes prior to them opening, your chance of avoiding long lines are much better.

TIP #2: Bring the REQUIRED documents. Those include;

  • Your current valid driver’s license. If you do not have a driver’s license, or lost your license, a valid passport will suffice. You need one acceptable document to verify full legal name and the date of your birth
  • Your Social Security Card. If you do not have it, you will need to go to the Social Services office nearest you to secure a card. You MUST have this to show the DMV.
  • Two acceptable documents verifying your Missouri residential address. This can be your bank statement; cable or utility bill, or a credit card statement. It must show the same address you are claiming as your residence.
  • Additional items may be required if your name is different from the name on your identity and date of birth verification document.

TIP #3: Expect to wait 10-15 days for your new driver's license. A paper copy will be issued once you have been approved, so make sure you keep that copy with you until you receive your new license. If you are traveling on an airplane with the paper copy, make sure you bring along your passport.

Like a visit to a doctor’s or dentist’s office, what you will go through could be painful (in terms of lost time), but, like a doctor’s visit, it is needed to keep your life running as smooth as possible. Plan accordingly and accept that you will have to give up a few hours for the process, and make sure you have everything you need prior to going to the DMV.