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Do I have to pay an extra fee for a REAL ID?

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Q. My “regular” driver’s license expires in August. There are no appointments available to go in person for a REAL ID before my current license expires. Therefore, I am “forced” to renew online in the coming days for a non-REAL ID license. Will the Motor Vehicle Commission waive any additional fee for me to switch to a REAL ID when I can finally get an appointment? I have a passport but I would rather not use it when I travel domestically.
— Frustrated

A. There’s been a fair amount of confusion about the REAL ID.

The Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID deadline to May 2023 so customers can use a standard New Jersey license to board domestic flights until then, said William Connolly, spokesman for the Motor Vehicle Commission.

After May 2023, the customer will not be able to use a standard NJ license to board a domestic flight, but a valid passport will be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for boarding, he said.

“The NJMVC adds more appointments each day, but if the customer is not able to secure an appointment at a convenient time and is wary of running up against an expiration date, we’d recommend they renew online and secure a REAL ID at a later date,” he said. “REAL ID is available as a dedicated appointment at NJMVC.gov, but the customer also can obtain a REAL ID if they bring the required documents to a license renewal appointment.”

A standard NJ license/ID costs $24 and a REAL ID costs $35, Connolly said.

“If the customer upgrades an existing license to a REAL ID, they will only have to pay the $11 difference, but they will keep the existing expiration date on the license,” he said. “If done at renewal, extending the license expiration out four years, the full fee for the standard license ($24) or REAL ID ($35) would have to be paid.”

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This story was originally published on June 9, 2021.

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