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Readers offer tips to avoid Real ID nightmares

REAL ID REDUX: Since last week’s column on getting a Real ID driver’s license (the law of the Land of Enchantment since November under the federal Real ID Act of 2005) the calls and emails have been pouring in. Many bad, some good, and all with a tip or two to help the next driver who’s renewing his or her license.


Callers like Darlene point out that while a 1099 tax form is on the short list of approved documents to prove your ID number, hers has only the last four of her Social Security number and was kicked back as unacceptable. She says “it took me four trips” to renew her license. ‘The government won’t issue you the documents you need to get a government document.”

And JL emails “forms 1099 will not suffice at MVD because privacy laws limit the SSN to the last four digits only, thereby obscuring the SSN.”

For U.S. citizens, the documents other than a 1099 on the Homeland Security-approved list to prove your ID number are (and you need just one): your Social Security card (not laminated), a W-2, or a pay stub with your name and full Social Security number.

WHAT IF YOU ARE MOVING HERE FROM ANOTHER STATE? While a Real ID from another state is supposed to be accepted as proof of identity, the MVD website says if you use that you also have to present one of eight documents that show you are an immigrant in the country legally. That means it’s not an option for U.S. citizens, like the elderly woman who is moving here from Texas to stay with Linda Wood. She called to find out what documents her friend would need (and she luckily had saved everything from her trip to the MVD in Texas).

For U.S. citizens, the documents on the list to prove your identity are an original or certified copy of your birth certificate or a valid passport.

WHAT IF I LOST MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE? Ben Cloutier of the state Tax and Revenue Department, which oversees MVD, says “alternative to a birth certificate, an applicant can also show a passport or passport card. … However, applicants can also obtain a new birth certificate from the Department of Health.” Go to to learn how to request a replacement in person, by mail, online or by phone.

YOU ALSO HAVE TO PROVE RESIDENCY: Darlene points out that if you have recently moved, your documents to prove residency – and you need to show two – might not match. Utility bills, credit card bills, bank statements, insurance binders and cards, property tax statements, pay stubs all have to have your full physical address somewhere and be current (bills, statements and pay stubs within 60 days, insurance documents within six months).

AND YOUR NAMES HAVE TO MATCH: If your name is not the same on every document, you need to supply the linking document that shows why and how it changed – marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption papers, etc. Betty called to ask if her divorce decree needs to be an original – it’s from 60 years ago.

Cloutier says “yes. However, we will take either an original marriage license or the marriage certificate from the county.”

CAN I STILL FLY COMMERCIAL WITHOUT A REAL ID? Becky Rivera emails “we have a family member who is going to be 88 and will be unable to get a Real ID license because he does not have a birth certificate. … He has children living in another state and unless we drive for a couple of days each way or they can fly home he will not be able to visit as he won’t have the proper ID! … Is there any other way that this could be handled? He has every other form of ID that is required, including a draft card from the federal government during the WWII era.”

Cloutier says “current New Mexico driving credentials or identification cards can be used to board a domestic flight until October 2020. After October 2020, a Real ID compliant credential or federally compliant identification, such as a passport, will be required.”

AND IF YOU THINK THIS IS HARD ON YOU: Don Wencewicz called to say he got his documents in order, went to the state MVD office at Menaul and Juan Tabo and was in and out in 35 minutes. He was “pleasantly surprised” and “feel(s) sorry for the clerks.”

Remember, the front-line clerks didn’t pass the law, Congress did. They didn’t make the list of acceptable documents, Homeland Security did. MVD clerks just get to implement Real ID and take the heat. Drivers have to go once, twice, some even five times to get their Real ID license. Clerks get to live it over and over, all day, every day.

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.