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How to Get a Real ID in South Carolina

A South Carolina REAL ID is a type of credential that can be obtained from the state Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV). Under the REAL ID act, starting in October 2020, you will need a secure form of identification in order to board domestic flights or enter certain federal facilities. If you do not obtain a REAL ID drivers license or identification card, you will no longer be able to use just a license or state-issued ID card for the aforementioned purposes.

An SC DMV REAL ID is similar to a standard driving license or identification credential, but it has a star on it that indicates that it complies with federal standards. If you do not have a gold star on your drivers license yet, read the information below in order to learn how to upgrade your card.

Do you need to obtain a REAL ID card in South Carolina?

The REAL ID card act does not make it mandatory for you to apply for a new drivers license or ID card. In general, the SCDMV will continue issuing both standard and secure credentials even after the act takes full effect in 2020. The purpose of the REAL ID law is simply to increase security by requiring you to show a federally-compliant card for certain purposes.

Starting October 1st, 2020, you will need a REAL ID driver license or another form of federally-accepted identification, such as a passport or military ID, in order to perform certain actions. Tasks that will require showing a secure credential include:

  • Visiting a federal courthouse or prison.
  • Boarding commercial flights.
  • Entering military bases.
  • Visiting a powerplant.

The act does not make it necessary for residents to show identification in places where IDs were not required in the past. For example, you can still visit a post office without showing a REAL ID license after 2020, just as you could before the act went into effect. Moreover, you do not need to get a secure ID if you do not visit military bases or fly domestically. Keep in mind that both standard and secure forms of identification can be used in order for you to drive, vote, apply for federal benefits, receive care at a hospital or participate in court/on a jury.

Keep in mind that while an SCDMV REAL ID will allow you to board domestic flights, your credentials cannot take the place of a passport. You will still need to have a passport in order to board international flights.

REAL ID Documents in South Carolina

Before you can add a gold star on your driver’s license in South Carolina, you will need to gather a variety of documents. The SCDMV needs to see proof of your identity, state residency and Social Security Number (SSN). If your name has legally changed, be prepared to show evidence of that name change as well. Documents that can be used to satisfy the REAL ID requirements include the following:

  • A birth certificate, passport or other documentation showing your identity.
  • A marriage certificate, divorce decree or court order that establishes your name change, if necessary.
  • A Social Security card, W-2 form or 1099 form that includes your full SSN and name.
  • An unexpired driver’s license or mail, such as a utility bill or bank statement, that shows your residential address rather than a P.O. box.

In any case, be mindful that all REAL ID documentation should be an original or certified copy, as photocopies will not be accepted. Note that you will need one identity credential, one SSN verification document and two documents to prove your residency.

The SCDMV may already have all of your documentation on file if you have applied for a license or ID card recently. In such cases, you can get REAL ID credentials without needing to bring in any additional paperwork, as long as your information is still the same as the details that the DMV has on file.

When to Get a Real ID in South Carolina

If you do not already have an SCDMV REAL ID and wish to get one, you can upgrade your current card at any time. One of the most convenient circumstances to upgrade your card is during its renewal process. However, you can also upgrade to a secure ID outside of your renewal schedule if you want to get a federally-compliant card sooner. Overall, it may be in your best interest to upgrade early if you are able to visit a DMV office prior to the October 2020 deadline.

You can also apply for REAL ID credentials when getting your first license or ID card. If you have a name or address change to report to the SCDMV, you can choose to upgrade to a new card at this time as well. The process for getting a secure ID will be the same as obtaining a standard credential, aside from the fact that you must provide one more piece of documentation.

In any case, it is important to recognize that you cannot retain your standard ID after upgrading to a secure credential. It is against the law to hold more than one SCDMV credential at the same time.

How to Apply for a REAL ID in South Carolina

If you currently hold a standard drivers license or ID card from the SCDMV, you may be eligible to upgrade to a secure ID without ever having to visit an office. Before scheduling a South Carolina REAL ID appointment, check the status of your license to see if you are able to buy your new credentials online. The SCDMV may already have all of your required documentation on file, which would allow you to skip the trip to the DMV in certain cases.

You will need to visit an office in person if you are ineligible to get an SCDMV REAL ID online. Before visiting a local DMV office, be sure to gather all of your documentation ahead of time. Because the process of getting a REAL ID card is similar to the steps for obtaining a standard credential, you should be prepared to take any tests that may be required for your license. For example, a vision screening may be required with your renewal.

Finally, you must pay a fee and have your photo taken. Note that the REAL ID fees are the same as those for standard credentials. Once your transaction is complete, you will receive your new card in the mail.