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Will my hyphenated name be a problem for REAL ID?

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Q. All of my documents, except for my driver’s license, use both my maiden and married names with no hyphen. Last time I renewed my license, my last names were hyphenated. I was told their system cannot give a space so that’s why there was a hyphen, and I couldn’t get it changed. Now my license is due for renewal and I have to get the REAL ID. I’m concerned that my documents won’t match. What should I do?
— Driver

A. You’ve got nothing to worry about. 

Before 2019, the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) system did indeed have limitations. It did not allow for spaces and it also limited the number of characters used for a name. 

But that system changed in 2019, said William Connolly, an MVC spokesman

“Licenses and IDs now allow significantly more space for names, and can be printed allowing for spaces between last names.” he said. “This will be accounted for during the customer’s transaction for REAL ID. The hyphen on the license will not disqualify them from REAL ID.”

If a customer wishes to change the name on a license or ID, they can do it on a walk-up basis at a Licensing Center, he said, but REAL ID requires an appointment whether it’s a renewal or as an upgrade.

For more information, visit the MVC’s dedicated website, REALID.NJ.gov. You can find guidance for name matches and a document selector tool that lays out what you need to bring to get a REAL ID in New Jersey at the website.

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This story was originally published on Sept. 8, 2021.

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