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story.lead_photo.caption Getting the Arkansas Voluntary Enhanced Security Driver’s License takes some doing. Only about 35,000 Arkansans have acquired the licenses so far.

To fly on an airliner or enter a federal building three years from now, U.S. residents will have two options: gather their birth certificates, Social Security cards and proof of residence to show at the door or get a Real ID.

Real IDs in the Natural State are referred to as Arkansas Voluntary Enhanced Security Driver's Licenses, and they will remain voluntary for the foreseeable future.

The Arkansas Voluntary Enhanced Security license, the state's response to a piece of federal legislation adopted in 2005, has been available since October 2016. Just over 35,000 Arkansans have gotten the new license, according to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Stricter regulations and misinformation about what is required have hindered the process of getting the licenses for many, and employees in the 25 Office of Motor Vehicle locations that offer Real IDs in the state have reported confusion about the documentation required, said Scott Hardin, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration's communications director.

[MORE: Full requirements for Arkansas Voluntary Enhanced Security Driver’s Licenses, locations to get one]

Real IDs, designed to improve national security, require names to match letter-for-letter across each piece of documentation.

For example, if a middle initial is used on one piece of documentation and a full middle name is used on another, that paperwork won't be accepted, Hardin said.

"A lot of it [complaints] has been from women who have a name change," Hardin said. "That's where it can be confusing and frustrating for people."

If there is a name change, residents should provide the paper trail that follows that change -- a marriage license or divorce papers, Hardin said.

Amanda Vanpelt, 37, said she wants to get a Real ID to protect herself from identity theft but that she anticipates problems because she kept her ex-husband's last name after their divorce. Vanpelt, a Danville resident, does not have a passport, another acceptable form of identification.

Hardin said another hiccup in the process occurs when people provide bill statements for utilities that are not registered in their names. If this is the case, Arkansans should take the person whose name is on the utility bill to sign an affidavit certifying that they live together.

The Real ID Act of 2005, which requires states to implement firmer regulations when issuing identification, was passed along with the USAPATRIOT Act in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S.

Not all states are following this law. Arkansas is among 26 states that are compliant. Other states and territories have until October to implement the standards.

The regulations in Arkansas require residents to provide documents to prove their legal presence and identities, residency and Social Security numbers.

Legal presence and identity must be proved with one primary document, such as a passport or birth certificate, and one secondary document, such as an out-of-state driver's license or a photo work ID.

Residency can be proved with two documents like a paycheck stub, utility bill or phone bill.

People who are not U.S. citizens can get the Real ID licenses, although they will expire along with their residency paperwork, Hardin said.

To prove valid Social Security numbers, people can provide such documents as a Social Security card or W-2 form.

Jennifer Cleveland, 49, has a driver's license that will expire in December 2019, about 10 months before the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.

Cleveland went back to her maiden name after her divorce, so she is less concerned with her names matching across the board. However, both of her children live in states that are not yet compliant with the federal law -- Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

Her daughter, who moved to Pennsylvania in May, got a passport for domestic air travel in case her state does not meet the extended deadline, Cleveland said.

"If something were to happen to her grandparents, she would need to fly to get home," Cleveland said.

Not every Department of Motor Vehicles office in the state is authorized to issue the Real IDs, although Hardin said 25 offices should be sufficient to serve the state. There are not plans to expand the number of offices issuing the federally approved IDs.

Jennifer Watson of Murfreesboro works two blocks from her local Department of Motor Vehicles office but will have to make the hourlong drive to Hot Springs to get her license.

"Going to Hot Springs to get a driver's license will never be a convenient thing," Watson said. "That would require taking time off work to do, which I don't have to do to go to my local office."

Cleveland thinks the limited number of offices that issue the Real IDs will create crowding, particularly as the deadline draws closer.

"It's going to make a big rush of people trying to get into the revenue offices," Cleveland said. "It's going to be a nightmare."

Hardin said the state is working to educate people about the new IDs by displaying signs at local Department of Motor Vehicles offices and asking workers to tell people about them.

"It's our hope that every Arkansan is, at the very least, knowledgeable on the potential for the new ID," Hardin said.

IDs that are valid for the full eight years cost $40. Replacing an ID that has not expired costs $10, Hardin said.

Federal grant dollars covered the cost of preparing offices to issue the licenses, which will have gold stars in the upper right corners. Regular Arkansas driver's licenses, still available to the public, now say "Not for federal identification" above the photo.

Hardin said people should call and double-check that they have all the proper documentation before going to get their new identification card to avoid having to make multiple trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Photo by SOURCE: Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration / Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Graph showing Voluntary Enhanced Security Licenses issued in Arkansas

People who have questions about getting their Arkansas Voluntary Enhanced Security licenses can call (501) 682-7059 or email

Metro on 08/27/2017

Print Headline: Obtaining 'Real IDs' is complex

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