Missourians still in the dark about REAL ID will need a crash course in compliance

The federal government has given the Missouri Department of Revenue yet another extension to implement REAL ID. The state now has until Aug. 1, 2019, to comply, so for the time being, Missourians with current state-issued licenses can continue to travel domestically by air and have access to federal facilities.

The Department of Revenue is working to develop a system to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or identification cards by March of 2019. But implementation problems persist nationwide.

Missouri residents will need a crash course in compliance during the coming months. The act requires residents to provide physical documentation of their identity, legal presence in the U.S., Social Security number and two proofs of residency. Name change documents and divorce decrees are also required when applicable.

Kansas began issuing REAL ID driver’s licenses in 2017. Last November, voters faced delays at the polls because bar codes on the back of their REAL ID licenses didn’t work.

This year, wait times at driver’s license offices — especially in Johnson County — have worsened as people sought compliant IDs.

Missouri doesn’t need similar headaches. And while state officials have gone to great lengths to avoid or delay implementing REAL ID, they now need to focus their efforts on developing strategies for compliance.

Officials should note some states use pre-applications online to cut wait times. Others have opened free-standing REAL ID stations and repurposed existing driver’s license stations.

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorists attacks. But, lawmakers in Missouri, citing privacy concerns, initially refused to comply.

Legislation signed last year finally put the state on the right path. Officials now must put a plan in place for a smooth transition — and stop trying to delay the inevitable.