Senator Mike Cunningham

By now, you’ve probably heard of REAL ID. If not, you need to be aware that a federal law passed in 2005 sets minimum standards for identification cards, including driver’s licenses. Without a REAL ID you won’t be able to enter a military base or pass through a federal security checkpoint, such as those at airports.

The good news is Missouri is exempt from the REAL ID Act until Oct. 1, 2020. Your Missouri driver’s license will be accepted at airports, military bases and other federal facilities until then. Even after that date, you still don’t need a REAL ID if you won’t be flying or visiting federal facilities. You can still request a traditional driver’s license, and that’s all you need to drive, vote or prove your age.

In March, the Department of Revenue began issuing REAL ID – compliant driver’s licenses. Because REAL ID is new in our state, many Missourians are unfamiliar with the requirements for obtaining the new license. I’ve heard from a number of constituents who stood in line at the driver’s license bureau with the intention of switching to a REAL ID, only to discover they didn’t have all the required documents.

If you decide to get a REAL ID, you’ll need to come to the license bureau prepared with some additional documentation. To obtain a REAL ID you must provide:

• Proof of identity – Your current Missouri driver’s license will not suffice. You’ll need to have a certified U.S. birth certificate or a valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card. A certificate of naturalization or citizenship, or a permanent resident card will also qualify.

• Proof of lawful status – For most Missourians, the birth certificate or passport you present to prove your identity will also satisfy this requirement.

• Social Security Number – A signed Social Security card is fine, but it can’t be laminated or altered in any way. A W-2, 1099 tax form or a pay stub with your name and Social Security number will also work.

• Proof of Missouri residency – You’ll need two different recent documents that show your name and residence address. Acceptable documents include a utility bill, voter registration card, bank statement, tax receipt, mortgage or lease, insurance policy, a professional license or any correspondence from a government agency.

• People who’ve changed their name through marriage, divorce or a court order will need to provide appropriate documentation.

The requirements for a REAL ID are not much different than those for a traditional driver’s license. The Department of Revenue currently requires a birth certificate, Social Security Card and proof of residency for first-time driver’s license applications. If you’re simply renewing your non-REAL ID and you’ve already verified your lawful status, you’ll only need to provide your current driver’s license and one proof of residency. When in doubt, refer to the renewal notice you receive in the mail. It will list the documents you need.

Persons born in Missouri may obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate by visiting any local county health department in the state. You can also download an application from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ website at That same site includes a link to a private vendor, endorsed by the department, who will process your application for an additional fee. Be cautious about any other vendor you find on the Internet.

To obtain a replacement Social Security card you must apply in person at a Social Security Administration office. There are Social Security offices in West Plains, Springfield, Rolla, Poplar Bluff and Lebanon. Each office is open from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on Wednesdays, when they close at noon.

Other than needing to provide additional documentation, the process for getting a REAL ID is the same as applying for a new drivers’ license. The fee is also the same. Your REAL ID will look just like a traditional Missouri driver’s license, but will include a gold star in the upper right corner. That gold star is important, though. Without it, you could find yourself standing at the terminal, waving your flight goodbye.

If you intend to travel by airplane or enter federal facilities, you’ll probably need a REAL ID. But, if you already have a U.S. passport or a valid military ID, you can use those instead. Otherwise, plan to come to the Department of Revenue office prepared with the required documentation when it’s time to renew your driver’s license. For more information about REAL ID and the requirements to obtain one, visit

It is my great honor to represent the citizens of the 33rd Senatorial District. Although the Legislature has adjourned for 2019, I remain your senator throughout the year. If there’s anything that I can do to assist you, please feel free to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.