New Alaska driver’s license is Real ID compliant



It’s going to be a busy year at the DMV in 2019.

The new driver’s licenses, which are compliant with the federal Real ID requirements, are being made available Jan. 2. And you’ll need to get your entire ID act together in order to get one.

Alaska’s Division of Motor Vehicles released the redesign of the Alaska driver’s license and ID cards earlier this month The new IDs are made of polycarbonate and have higher-level protections against counterfeiting.

Polycarbonates are tough materials that are engineered plastic that has the ability to house complex optical features, is high impact-resistant and doesn’t scratch easily, making them well-suited for scraping ice. Some of the ink used on the new license changes colors as you move it in the light.

Veterans will also have the opportunity to have their designation on the front of the license or ID card.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, Alaska residents will need to present a REAL ID compliant license/ID, or another acceptable form of identification, for accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding commercial aircraft.

However, to get a REAL ID card, you’ll not just be trading in your old driver’s license or ID. You must present one identity document, which shows your date of birth, true full name, identity and U.S. citizenship or lawful status, such as a passport or birth certificate.

The State of Alaska Real ID checklist is available at this link.

Getting the new Real ID might be costly for those who don’t have passports already, or for those who are not in possession of their birth certificate or other documentation. Passports cost about $145; Alaska birth certificates cost about $30. The driver’s license itself is $20. If you need a birth certificate and a new license, you’ll be out $50.

At the time the Real ID act was passed in 2005 and standardized enhanced identification across the states, it was criticized as a form of national ID, something privacy advocates and civil libertarians say is unconstitutional, because identification should be the province of the states, not the federal government.

[Read: Cato Institute discussion of the issues with Read ID]


  1. Why get a REAL ID if one already holds a valid passport? Just two different data sets in which your PII can be compromised.

  2. Interesting to note, when I came to Alaska in 2009, they would not use my legally issue license from another state as ID, and required I show my birth certificate. It boggles the mind that the verified information already in the state licensing database is not sufficient to confirm identity and upgrade to the new ID/License. But now they will really, really, really verify the info. It is an additional layer of bureaucracy.

    • Very good question. I was the guy in charge when that change was made and here’s why: Not every state used the same requirements for legal name. For example, some states did not require or record middle names; did that mean you didn’t have a middle name? One state used high school year books for verification, not really a great source of legal names. (Think Rep. Chris ‘I’m-not-quite-sure-what-my-last-name-is’ Tuck) The main reason I support the Real ID Act is to standardize the verifiable documents that each state may accept. Eventually, what you had to endure in 2009 will be a moot point.

  3. Why not a 10 year or longer duration before they expire? Probably going to be a 2 yr renewal cycle to suck the bucks out of the folks – spending is King, just ask a legislator!

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