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Good Question: What's Different About REAL ID?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesotans will need a higher-security driver's license to board planes starting next year.

That has Jane from St. Paul and Mark from Burnsville wanting to know: What's different about Real ID?

"There really isn't a lot of change that most Minnesotans will see," says Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), author of the Real ID legislation that failed in the Minnesota Senate Monday night.

The Real ID-compliant driver's licenses in many other states look similar to the non-compliant licenses that don't meet federal standards.

They are often differentiated, in some cases, only by a star in the top right hand corner of the license.

The federal government defines the types of documents required more narrowly than Minnesota currently does.

To apply for a Real ID license, a person would need to bring in their current Minnesota driver's license, two proofs of residency (like a utility bill or pay stub) and proof of their Social Security number (like a Social Security card or W-2 form).

The Real ID is different from an enhanced driver's license that is now currently available in Minnesota. It costs an extra $15 and has a radio chip embedded in it with a person's information.

"The enhanced driver's license is really a combination of border-crossing document and driver's license," said Bruce Gordon, director of communications with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. "The new Real IDs will not have a radio chip in them. The enhanced ones have a chip like your passport does, so it can be read as you cross the border."

The fees for Real ID compliant and non-compliant driver's licenses will be the same, according to the proposed legislation.

As of right now, a person can use their current Minnesota license to board a plane until January of 2018. If the state legislature doesn't pass Real ID legislation, Minnesotans will need a passport to get on a plane after January. An enhanced driver's license would also be good through 2020.

Minnesotans will need to show an additional form of identification along with a Minnesota driver's license when it comes to visiting federal facilities, nuclear power plants or military bases.

The state's public safety department recommends calling ahead to see the identification requirements before a visit.

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