The Aiken branch of the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, 1755 Richland Ave. E., was busy throughout Tuesday.

While the deadline to get a REAL ID is still months out, the state Department of Motor Vehicles is urging South Carolinians not to wait.

The more you procrastinate, officials have said, the harder it will be – think exceedingly long lines.

Beginning Oct. 1, a REAL ID (denoted by a gold star in the upper right corner) will be needed to board a domestic flight, enter a secure federal building or visit a military installation. A passport works, too.

A REAL ID is not needed to vote, an important nuance given the deadline's proximity to the November presidential election.

The REAL ID matter is so pressing the DMV has announced a statewide tour, zigzagging through every county, with gear in tow. 

"The agency is equipped with three mobile offices. Two of these offices can be setup anywhere, and the other is on wheels," SCDMV Executive Director Kevin Shwedo said in a statement. "We're going to visit every county over the next five months to make sure more South Carolinians have a convenient option to purchase a REAL ID."

The mobilized, augmented services will be in Aiken County in late February. 

The department also recently sent out postcards to those eligible for a REAL ID — a succinct reminder to "avoid the line and buy your" $25 REAL ID today. In October 2019, Shwedo said they had reached a critical point in REAL ID implementation.

REAL ID resized for web, SCDMV

A sample REAL ID, provided by the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.

"To think that lines won't reach four-to-six hours in South Carolina is a myth," he said at the time, "and we're urging you to prove us wrong by preparing now."

REAL IDs have been available since early 2018. The new, optional card brings South Carolina in line with the REAL ID Act, federally enacted in 2005 in response to a 9/11 Commission security recommendation. As of September 2019, all U.S. states and territories were compliant with the law, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

To get a REAL ID, customers must have:

  • Proof of identity; a government-issued birth certificate or valid U.S. passport
  • Proof of Social Security number; a Social Security card, 1099, non-1099, W-2
  • Two proofs of current S.C. address
  • Proof of all legal name changes (for example, a marriage certificate)
  • $25; cash, check, or card.

REAL IDs can be purchased in person or online, if the department has a person's updated information on hand.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin