The need for a driver’s license upgrade by October 2020 is no laughing matter for most Indiana residents - and no smiling matter either.
That is because Americans soon will need a Real ID-compliant license, permit or identification card if they want to board a commercial flight or enter some types of federal facilities. Neutral facial expressions work best with the Real ID facial recognition technology.
Already, between 20 and 25 percent of Indiana residents have a Real ID-compliant license, estimated Sarah Bonick, communications director for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
“We started issuing them back in 2010. Anyone who has moved to the state since then or gotten their license for the first time after 2010 has gotten a Real ID license,” she said. “We have all the facial recognition software now and we are cross-referencing the forms and making sure you are who you say you are.
“Want to avoid people going to an airport or to an Amtrak train and being turned away. Want to avoid confusion. We want to be telling you about it now rather than later. We want people to come in and do it sooner rather than later if they need it.”
Facial recognition software works by comparing the facial measurements of an image with the facial measurements of a verified identity in a secure database created for identification purposes.
Indiana banned smiling in photos taken by BMV officials for a driver’s license since 2009.
To find out if your driver’s license is Real ID-compliant, look for a gold star in its upper-right-hand corner. If it does not have the star, you need an upgrade.
To get the driver’s license upgrade, an Indiana resident must collect and bring several forms of documentation required to prove identity and state residency to a BMV customer service location.
Two documents are required proving state residency and they must have been generated within 60 days of the visit. A printed pay stub, bill, bank statement or federal health benefit statement will work for this.
For people who do this type of business online, Bonick said a print-out of an electronic version of the pay stub, bill or statement also would work.
One document is required for verification of a social security number, identity and lawful status in the United States.
A U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, a consular report of birth or a foreign passport with a VISA and I-94 form would work to prove identity and lawful status. A social security card, W-2 form, SSA-1099 form, non-SSA-1099 form, pay stub or Social Security Administration documents could be used to verify a social security number.
With the right kind of documentation to prove one’s identity, the bureau said the upgrade can be pretty straightforward, and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch accomplished it when she stopped by the BMV mobile branch last month at the Indiana State Fair.
“The Indiana State Fair is a Hoosier tradition that attracts residents from around the state,” Crouch said in a statement prepared at the fair. “I’m here today to demonstrate the ease with which Hoosiers can upgrade to aReal ID now to save time and avoid confusion in the future.”
The BMV plans to include Real ID upgrade reminders with the credential renewal reminders it customarily sends Indiana residents, Bonick said, such as the reminders sent when a driver’s license is set to expire soon.