If you want to use your driver’s license as identification to get on a commercial flight in New Jersey or anywhere else in the United States, time is running out to get a REAL ID.

The updated Department of Homeland Security deadline to get the federally approved driver’s license, which has more stringent requirements than a standard license, is May 3, 2023.

According to New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission spokesman William Connolly, if you want to get a REAL ID you will need to make an appointment online at realid.nj.gov, in one of two ways.

He said you can make an appointment to get a REAL ID if you need to renew your current driver’s license within the next 3 months, or if your license is not expiring within 3 months, you will need to make a non-renewal appointment at 1 of the 24 MVC Licensing Centers throughout the state.

martince2 GettyImages
martince2 GettyImages

Limited availability

An online check of appointment availability on Tuesday found limited options for Jersey residents whose licenses do not expire within 3 months.

Only 6 of the 24 Licensing Centers had any appointments available at all. Centers in Cape May and Salem had appointments available this month, another had appointments available starting in late November, and the other 3 centers did not have any appointments available until early December.

Connolly acknowledged availability is sometimes limited but said “we add more appointments each day, at 7 a.m. for each upcoming business day, so our guidance is if you want REAL ID or if you have an interest in REAL ID, visit our dedicated website.”

He also said appointments for REAL ID for drivers with licenses that expire within 3 months are "widely available" online.

He said while the deadline to get REAL ID is now less than 7 months away the MVC is not expecting a mad crush of people looking to get one.

EvgeniyShkolenko GettyImages
EvgeniyShkolenko GettyImages

Do you really want one?

“It’s really impossible to say how many people in New Jersey will need or want to get a REAL ID, there’s a lot of people in New Jersey that will not be eligible, these are federal requirements, there’s a lot of people in New Jersey that don’t fly.”

He pointed out “for many people if you have a passport, if you have a military ID card, or if you have another form of ID that TSA will accept, you don’t necessarily need a REAL ID.”

You can learn about what other types of ID besides a passport and a military ID will be acceptable to board a commercial flight at tsa.gov

We don't want a mad rush

Connolly stressed “we don’t want there to be a mad rush, we want people, if you’re interested in REAL ID or heard about it, go to our website, see if it’s something you need or want and try to make those appointments.”

“We are also issuing Real ID with our mobile units, and we’ve expanded that program over the past year and we plan to continue to expand that program throughout the fall and winter.”

Information about the mobile units is available on the MVC website.

Connolly said so far in New Jersey about 375,000 REAL ID licenses, with a star in the upper right-hand corner, have been issued and “we’ve had a lot of people who have had the option to get REAL ID that chose not to, so it’s not really fully clear how many people will need or want to get REAL ID.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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