Don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. If it hasn’t yet, it will because these are the new Federal laws for legal ID.
If you think life is crazy, it’s getting crazier. As if we didn’t have enough madness in our world, here’s another thing to send you around the bend. This isn’t just about me. Oh, no. This is about everyone in the U.S. who wants to drive a car and/or vote — or, after May 23, 2023, fly on an airplane or enter a government building.
To get your driver’s license renewed, you need a legal copy of your birth certificate or a valid, up-to-date passport. Your birth certificate must be signed and officially stamped. You can not use a copy. If you do not have your original (and many of us don’t), order it now. Put it somewhere safe so you can find it when you need it — and you will need it. Don’t put it in a safe places you’ll never find. If you don’t have you birth certificate or a current valid passport, you won’t be able to renew your driver’s license in any U.S. state. Moreover, if you don’t have a non-expired one (ours expired four years ago), you’ll need a birth certificate to get one. So order that birth certificate now and get ahead of the crowd.
If it happens you were born in NY city, it’s worse. I’m sure different rules apply in other cities so of course, check locally.
In New York (city), only you or your parents can can order a copy of your birth certificate. If you are too old to have living parents — which applies to most senior citizens — the only other person who can order one would be the coroner or a lawyer with your power of attorney. No relative — not a wife, husband, or child — can order one. You would have to actually go — in person — to wherever you were born and beg them to let you have your birth certificate. Be prepared to be turned away if they decide you don’t look American.
If this sounds bizarre, welcome to my world which will eventually be your world — unless they change the rules which I sure hope they do. What a disaster!
Since Trump trashed the USPS — and many official offices (including New York) will only send these documents via USPS — getting them is slow. Of course, there’s no tracking on standard mail. Bummer.
Right now, getting my Birth Certificate from New York city will take more than three weeks. I’m supposed to renew my license in two and a half weeks. But, I can renew it after that and it won’t change the price. As long as I don’t need that Federal REAL ID. That would require wedding certificates and utility documents though in Massachusetts, it’s okay to print an electronic copy.
So to reiterate, you need a valid (current) passport or, if you come from another country, your naturalization papers. If you were born here, you don’t have any such papers because normally, being born here is good enough. It used to be good enough. I guess it isn’t good enough any more.
You need to prove you live where you live — so you need your mortgage, rental agreement, or a utility bill. You know how everyone says you should do everything online? Well this is why you should not do everything online. Sooner or later, someone wants a physical piece of paper.
If you are a woman who is or was married and you changed your name from your birth name and you want a Federal REAL ID, you will need to produce a marriage certificate for each marriage, or each change of name if you changed your name for other reasons.
If you were married outside the U.S., good luck with that. It’s probably easier to get a passport and skip the whole “REAL ID” thing though I haven’t checked what they now require to get a passport. It used to be expensive and take a long time, but it didn’t require any hoop jumping. I have no idea what they want now.
I remember the date Garry and I were married because we are still married, but the other two were long ago. My first wedding was in 1965 (I think — maybe it was 1967?) — 55 or 57 years ago. How many of you remember details of something that happened half a century — or longer — ago?
According to the letter I got from the RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles) in Massachusetts, you can do this at a AAA office, but I called AAA and you can’t. They are closed until April 3. I think they are having personnel problems. Even after that, they can only do a few things and getting a driver’s license isn’t (currently) one of them. However, this varies from state to state, so if you’re a AAA member, check locally.
I need to renew by March 11th. I won’t have my birth certificate by then, much less wedding certificates from half a century ago or from overseas. I guess I’m not going to renew my license on time and I’m never taking another plane ride.
Now, imagine you are poor and don’t have a computer. You need the paperwork but aren’t good at internet navigation. You also don’t have money to just order the paperwork and wait. If you don’t get the ID, you can’t vote, drive, or fly. This is what the fight is about and why it is a major incursion on the rights of all of us and especially the poor. Now do you get it? If this is making me crazy, how crazy will it make people who don’t even have an email address?
Is this insane or what? And yet the Supreme Court upheld it, so you may not think this is your problem, but it will be unless you are giving up driving, flying, and voting. Somehow, I have a sinking feeling it will get worse.