Answer Man

Dear O Great Fount of Knowledge: I know you covered the REAL ID driver's license issue a while back, but here's a wrinkle I need your help with: My wife and I each paid extra ($40.25) to get the Minnesota enhanced driver's license, but it doesn't have the star on it like the REAL ID license does. Will the enhanced ID be accepted as a REAL ID by other states or by the TSA? And will Minnesota change our enhanced IDs into REAL IDs the next time we renew? Thanks in advance for your help. 

These questions can be somewhat arcane for people who don't travel. The Answer Man likes to stand pat. So we asked Megan Leonard, a public information officer for Minnesota's Department of Public Safety. 

To your first question, the answer is yes. The enhanced driver's license or enhanced ID is a federally approved identification document, so it can be used for domestic air travel and to access federal facilities. And it will continue to be acceptable starting on Oct. 1, 2020, when a standard driver's license will no longer be an acceptable form of identification for such purposes. 

For those who don't know, the difference between an enhanced driver's license and a standard driver's license is that the former can be used as a border-crossing travel document by land and sea from Canada, Mexico and some countries in the Caribbean. 

Since 2018, Minnesota has issued 230,494 enhanced driver's licenses and ID cards, about 5% of all valid Minnesota driver's licenses and ID cards.

"For Minnesotans, you live in northern Minnesota. You go to Canada frequently. We're on the border. That's why we have an enhanced driver's license and an enhanced ID card," Leonard said. 

As to your final question: Will Minnesota change your enhanced IDs into REAL IDs the next time you renew? That's up to you. It's a choice you have as a Minnesotan. You can apply for a standard driver's license, a REAL ID driver's license or an enhanced driver's license.

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