HELENA — Leaders with Montana’s Motor Vehicle Division say they have issued more than 30,000 Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses since January.
MVD updated state lawmakers on the Real ID program Monday morning, at a meeting of the Law and Justice Interim Committee.
Michele Snowberger, MVD’s general counsel and former chief of its Driver Services Bureau, said about 32,500 drivers have opted for Real ID-compliant licenses, compared to about 129,000 who chose standard licenses. That means about 20 percent have adopted Real ID, which Snowberger said is comparable to other states.
Starting in October 2020, Montanans will need a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or other federally approved identification to board an airplane or enter certain federal facilities. The state has given people an option to get a compliant license or a standard card.
People who get Real IDs through the state must provide additional documentation of their identity, and they must pay an additional fee of $25 if their current license is close to its expiration date, or $50 otherwise.
MVD is currently able to process Real ID applications at 27 driver’s license stations around Montana. A full list of eligible locations is available here.
Snowberger said they hope to begin providing Real ID services in Big Timber and Conrad in the future. She said it takes extra equipment to handle those licenses, because of the extra documents that have to be processed.
Leaders said MVD is also working with third-party providers to expand access to Real ID services. MVD Express in Billings is already offering them, and Snowberger said they are in discussions to offer them through AAA locations.
Snowberger told lawmakers that MVD is asking people not to wait until near the deadline before applying for a Real ID-compliant license.
“We encourage people to go and find out and make the decision for themselves as to whether or not they want a Real ID credential, and then to please make an appointment and get that done as soon as possible,” she said.
People who do not get a Real ID can use other approved documents, like a passport or a photo ID from one of Montana’s federally recognized tribes.
MVD launched an ad campaign to bring the Real ID program to the public’s attention.
“Since we have reinstituted those ads, we’re seeing an uptick in customers seeking Real ID-compliant credentials,” said Snowberger.
You can find more information about Real ID, including what is required and how to apply, at mtrealid.gov.