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Follow new rules to get a new driver’s license


Especially when you are changing a system that people have used every four or eight years for their entire adult lives. So, to make things clearer on what drivers need to take to a Motor Vehicle Division office when they want to renew their license under the new federal Real ID requirements, I’m taking another run at it, with readers’ help.

First, though, the document requirements fall into three categories – your ID number, your proof of ID and your proof of residency. You need one proof of number, one proof of ID and two proofs of residency. A full list of acceptable documents is posted at at the link below and at

Under the new system, you can get one of four kinds of ID: a Real ID driver’s license or a Real ID identification card, or the non-Real ID-compliant driver authorization card or identification card. The documents for the Real ID license and ID card are the same, ditto for the non-compliant license and ID.

What Real ID lets you do is board a commercial airline after October 2020, as well as enter some secure federal buildings. If all you need is a license to drive, then the non-compliant license works. It’s up to each individual what kind of ID/license they believe they need.

REAL ID: For this license, the most common documents to prove your ID number – and you just need one – are a Social Security card, W-2 or 1099 tax forms, or a pay stub with your name and Social Security number on it. The Social Security card cannot be laminated, period, per federal regulations.

Proof of identity documents – again you just need one – are a passport or an original or certified copy of a birth certificate.

Residency documents – you need two of these – are current utility bills (but not a cellphone bill), bank or credit card statements, property tax or mortgage bills, or a pay stub with your name and address. If they come to your post office box, that’s fine as long as your physical address, as in a service address for utilities, is somewhere on the bill.

DRIVER AUTHORIZATION CARD: For non-Real ID licenses and ID cards, you can use your Social Security card (again, not laminated), W-2, 1099 or pay stub with your social on it to prove your ID number. You can use your current driver’s license, military ID or Social Security card to prove your identity. And you can use the same two proof of residency documents.

MORE ON MILITARY IDS: Don Arenfeld asks in a recent email if he can use his military ID to renew his driver’s license and if that’s all he needs.

Yes and no. Yes, he can use it to get a driver authorization card, but he still needs one proof of his ID number and two proofs of his residency.

Jimmy Richardson asks “is, or is not, the Military ID card (DD Form 2) acceptable as form of ID for the MVD?”

For Real ID, no. For a driver authorization card or ID, yes.

And Dick Daniels asks if there are any additional forms of ID accepted for military wives to get Real ID.

No. Everyone needs one proof of ID number (basically your Social Security card, W-2 or 1099), one proof of identity (passport or birth certificate) and two proofs of residency. Military IDs suffice for the one proof of identity document for a non-compliant driver authorization card/ID.

AND IF YOUR NAME HAS CHANGED: Martha Swinney emails she needed to make five trips to the Los Lunas office to renew her license because of confusion over her name, which she changed when she got married. And Donna Wright emails her aunt was sent home to get her marriage certificate “because her name on her birth certificate didn’t match her other forms of ID.”

According to MVD, “if your proof of identity document does not contain your current full legal name, you must present documentation of any name change(s). This may include a marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption records or court order. The DMV uses the full legal name as listed on the document. In a case of multiple name changes, you may be asked for marriage certificates or other proof of each change. Divorce decrees must reference the maiden name or former name before marriage.”

It boils down to supplying the “linking document” that shows why/how your name changed.

And Martha points out that, if you have a passport with your married name that matches the rest of your documents, no marriage license is required.

AND IF NOTHING IS IN MY WIFE’S NAME? Jimmy also says all the current statements and bills for his household are in his name, so “what else may be used to prove residency for my wife?”

Her marriage certificate that links her to those statements/bills.

CAN I FLY WITH MY CURRENT LICENSE? C.L. Rockhold emails,”If you plan to travel by air, and your current driver’s license is not expired, do the airlines accept current New Mexico driver’s licenses – or do you have to have the ‘Real ID’ license in order to fly?”

The TSA accepts current licenses now that New Mexico is in the process of converting to Real ID requirements. There is no way the MVD could handle every New Mexico driver coming in to renew, so the new licenses are being phased in as current ones expire and the current ones are accepted to board commercial flights.

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.