Many Washington driver’s licenses will have a new look starting this Sunday (July 1), a result of the state’s decision to ease into compliance with the federal Real ID law.

Standard licenses and identification cards will carry an additional notification in the upper right: FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY.

Those limits mean that while the driver’s license is good for standard identification as well as operating a motor vehicle, it won’t be enough at a federal facility that requires federal ID and isn’t proper identification for crossing an international border.

It will be acceptable identification for domestic air travel until Sept. 30, 2020, the state Department of Licensing says, because the Legislature agreed to put notification starting next month on new standard licenses and state-issued ID cards.

The new ID will cost $78 and last for six years.

Congress passed the Real ID law in 2005 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but a remarkable coalition of bi-partisan legislators fought making Washington comply, for a myriad of reasons, until last year.

As lawmakers debated solutions and compromises over the last dozen years, the state received extensions from the deadline to comply with the federal law from the Department of Homeland Security. But in 2015, the department refused to grant another extension without some changes, and said standard licenses wouldn’t be good for boarding planes starting in 2018. The new system was passed and signed into law in May 2017.

The state’s initial response to Real ID was to offer the enhanced license without changing the standard license, but critics complained about the cost. A six-year standard license costs $54, the enhanced license initially cost $108 – almost the cost of a passport, which is good for 10 years.

This video has a detailed explanation, recorded in 2017.

Extensions from DHS resumed, and the current one ends on Oct. 10, 2018. But the state Department of Licensing will apply for a ruling in September that the new system is in full compliance and is confident DHS will certify it through Sept. 30, 2020. After that, however, a standard license won’t be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration for boarding domestic flights. Travelers will need to have a passport, an enhanced license or some other form of federal ID showing they are legally in the country.

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