By State Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck

Although the month of October may seem far away, that’s an important date for those who utilize airline travel.

After what seems like years of negotiating, Oct. 1 is the hard deadline for having improved identification when flying. After that date, the standard Minnesota driver’s license will NOT suffice to prove one's identity in order to board an airplane for domestic travel.

Residents have several choices, with what’s called Real ID being one of them. Another choice is the “Enhanced ID. ” A standard passport issued by the federal government will also allow entry on all kinds of flights, domestic and international, while a passport card is only sufficient for domestic airline travel.

It’s estimated that roughly 10 percent of Minnesota residents have gone through the process and received their new ID, and officials urge not waiting until the last few weeks before starting the process. There could be a rush of applications as the deadline approaches, and that could cause headaches.

The Real ID and the Enhanced ID will also serve as drivers licenses, and after Oct. 1, the standard Minnesota driver’s license cannot be used to board domestic flights or enter certain federal facilities. To obtain either of these new licenses/IDs, one will need to prove his or her identity, prove they have a Social Security number, and also prove their residence. All documents used for proof must be original or certified copies. Every name change a person has undergone must also be documented, so this could present a bit of a challenge for women who have been married or divorced.

The main difference between the two new Minnesota IDs is that the enhanced version contains a radio frequency ID chip and will allow entry into Canada and Mexico. Both will allow entrance onto domestic airline flights, as will a passport card. But remember, as is currently the law, only a valid passport is acceptable for entry onto international flights.

For those who may be hesitant about applying for these new IDs, and who still want to utilize airline travel, a passport will satisfy the requirement for identification. And a passport card, one that can be carried in a billfold, will be sufficient for airline travel within the United States.