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Need REAL ID? Visit your county clerk’s office

By Richard Rourk

If you are wanting to take a flight inside the United States or enter any federal buildings or nuclear plants after October you will need to get a REAL ID.

According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, The REAL ID Act of 2005 establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, all persons must have a REAL ID license for accessing certain federal buildings, entering nuclear facilities and boarding commercial flights within the United States.

TN REAL IDs can be obtained by visiting your local county clerk’s office.

“Prices vary, but there is a $4 fee, and to obtain a regular class D license, that is a renewal of $32 for eight years,” Unicoi County Clerk Mitzi Bowen told The Erwin Record. “If their license is not up for renewal but they are just updating their license to a REAL ID, that will be a charge of $12 or $16.”

According to Bowen, the REAL ID looks very similar to the current Tennessee driver’s license. “There is a gold star on REAL IDs once they are mailed out to the recipient,” Bowen said.

Bowen acknowledged that customers who are needing a REAL ID should start the process sooner than later.

“It can take up to 20 days for the recipient to receive their REAL ID, and if they haven’t received it by 30 days, they need to get in touch with the main office,” Bowen said.

To obtain a REAL ID, Tennessee residents need the following: Proof to establish citizenship or legal presence; proof of your full Social Security number and two proofs of Tennessee residency.

“A valid passport can be used in place of a birth certificate and marriage certificate for women, a Social Security Card or W2 should have their Social Security Number on it and they can use a valid Tennessee driver’s license and a car registration,” Bowen said. “If someone is looking for a list of requirements we have them printed here in the Unicoi County Clerk’s office located in the Unicoi County Courthouse. Anyone bringing a birth certificate may want to make sure it is the current birth certificate – the certificates with the baby’s footprints on it are what’s called a ‘mother’s copy’ and will not be used. It has to be the official birth certificate.”

For more information about REAL ID, please visit the Unicoi County Clerk’s office or visit to learn more.