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With about a year to go before Pennsylvanians need a so-called Real ID to enter some federal buildings and board airplanes, experts are urging people not to wait — especially since several York County residents experienced issues with the process.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks, but it received pushback from states such as Pennsylvania, Maine and South Carolina, which delayed the official rollout of the act's enforcement for years.

Judy Givens, of West Manchester Township, waited more than two hours at her local Department of Motor Vehicles hoping to get a Real ID before being told her original Social Security card was invalid, she said. 

"You better start now, because it might take you all next year to get it," said Givens.

Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2017 voted to comply with the federal regulation, overturning a previous 2012 state law that blocked Pennsylvania's participation based on concerns about cost, constitutionality and government intrusiveness, according to The Associated Press.

 Pennsylvania has its own set of specific rules and requirements regarding Real ID. 

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, all U.S. residents will need either a Real ID-compliant driver's license or photo ID card, or a valid passport or military ID, to board domestic flights and access many military installations. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation advises those who want to receive a Real ID seek one as soon as they can. It can take up to six months to receive the necessary replacement or duplicate documents, officials said. 

Melanie Baldwin, a spokeswoman for PennDOT, said state officials are aware of issues related to Social Security cards and other documentation causing a delay in the issuing of Real IDs.

Baldwin said a valid Social Security card must have the individual's current legal name, as well as certain features such as blue columns and pillars on the opposites sides of the card and the Social Security Administration’s seal.

Baldwin said replacement cards can be issued at Social Security offices or online.

State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, said he has received a handful of calls over the past few months from residents experiencing  issues.

In addition, different names appearing on a Social Security card and a birth certificate have caused issues with receiving a Real ID. 

For example, if the Social Security card says Bill but the birth certificate says William, the card will be invalid. 

"There's some round robin issues you need to work through," Grove said. "PennDOT has been a great help to try and accommodate those people."

Real ID is not required for driving, voting, accessing hospitals and federal courts, visiting the post office or applying for federal benefits such as Social Security, according to dmv.pa.gov.

A test is available for Pennsylvanians wondering if Real ID is something they should invest in, and that can be accessed on dmv.pa.gov.

Citizens who decide to apply for a Real ID must have necessary documentation readily available. 

Federal regulations require that PennDOT must verify original versions or certified copies of the following documents:

  • Proof of identity: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the state office of vital records with a raised/embossed seal — issued by an authorized government agency — or valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card.
  • Proof of Social Security number: Social Security card.
  • Two proofs of current, physical Pennsylvania address: Examples include current, unexpired Pennsylvania license or ID, Pennsylvania vehicle registration, auto insurance card or utility bill with the same name and address.
  • Proof of all legal name changes: Certified marriage certificate, court order or divorce decree issued by your county's family court.

If somebody received their first Pennsylvania drivers license, learner's permit or photo ID card after Sept. 1, 2003, PennDOT may already have filed the Real ID documentation.

People can apply for a pre-verification check from PennDOT by visiting penndot.gov. If your Real ID has been filed, you can order your ID online and avoid visiting a driver's license center.

Everyone else must visit a PennDOT driver's license center or a Real ID center with all the necessary documentation to receive the identification. A complete list of locations where individuals can obtain a Real ID can be found on dmv.pa.gov.

There is a one-time $30 charge for obtaining a Real ID.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.

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