In 2005 Congress passed the REAL ID Act as an attempt to prevent tragedies like 9/11 and other terrorist attacks. Because the process of applying for and receiving an identification card varies greatly from state to state, the REAL ID Act attempts to create a national standard for the issuance of all government-issued identification cards such as driver’s licenses.
Currently, the REAL ID laws only require you to have a REAL ID to enter a military base, certain federal agencies and federal buildings. Since some military bases and federal buildings have different security levels, it is best to call ahead and find out what forms of identification are acceptable. You do not need a REAL ID to apply or receive federal benefits, vote or register to vote, access hospitals (including VA hospitals), visit the post office, access federal courts or drive.
The US Department of Homeland Security granted South Carolina an implementation extension to become REAL ID compliant. As such, you may either get a REAL ID driver’s license or keep using your unexpired license. However, after October 1, 2020 no extensions will be authorized and a REAL ID license will be required from all airline passengers unless you a have another federally approved identification such as a valid passport or military ID.
For South Carolina, current, unexpired driver’s licenses will be accepted until October 10, 2018 for entering a federal building, nuclear power plant, or boarding a federally regulated aircraft unless you have another federally approved ID. After the deadline you will not be allowed access without the REAL ID or other federally issued ID. Children will not need a REAL ID to board a plane if they are flying with an adult with a REAL ID. REAL IDs are completely optional and voluntary but you will still need a passport to fly internationally.
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