FILE - Illinois REAL ID

Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White plans to extend hours of some driver service facilities to accommodate the high demand for REAL IDs.

The demand for federally compliant REAL ID driver’s license and identification cards has been high. Since the Secretary of State's office began offering the federally compliant driver licenses and ID cards this spring, it has processed about 500,000 REAL ID cards across the state.

The Secretary of State's Office announced the expanded hours this week for some facilities in northern Illinois and the Chicago area. Some locations are opening an additional day to accommodate REAL ID applications.

In response to the increased demand, the expanded hours will be at Chicago are Secretary of State offices, Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Dave Druker said. 

He said if demand increases in other areas, the Secretary of State's Office could consider expanded hours elsewhere.

“Thus far it hasn’t impacted as much as it has in some of the locations in the Chicago metropolitan area,” Druker said.

The cards are modified versions of the regular state-issued driver’s license and identification cards. Starting in October 2020, the REAL ID cards will be required for all airline travel, including domestic flights. The federally compliant ID cards will also be required to get into federal buildings and military bases.

For those who are unsure if they need an updated ID card, Druker recommended visiting the Secretary of State's REAL ID website.

“We strongly encourage people to go to the website and make the determination whether in fact they actually do need it before they go to the facilities,” he said.

Druker pointed out that a passport will also work as a REAL ID.

For those who need a REAL ID, Druker recommended they double-check to make sure they have all the proper materials before heading to a Secretary of State facility. A list of all the required documents is available on the website.

Druker said the additional and modified hours will be covered by Secretary of State Office staff by modifications to employee shifts.

“We are doing everything possible to make the experience as reasonable as possible,” he said.

Secretary of State Jessie White said he doesn’t expect demand for the REAL IDs to taper off anytime soon.

“Like states throughout the country, we have experienced an increased volume of customers applying for REAL IDs and expect this to continue through December 2020,” White said in a statement.

The new hours take effect starting Dec. 30.

The Secretary of State’s Office has some reminders about REAL IDs: 

  • Customers have a choice. They do not need a REAL ID if they have a valid U.S. passport, military ID or other TSA-acceptable form of identification. These documents will be accepted for domestic air travel. For a complete list of acceptable documents, please visit: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.
  • People do not need a REAL ID if they do not fly domestically or visit secure federal facilities.
  • However, to apply for a REAL ID, customers need to come prepared with the necessary documents.
  • Customers are encouraged to visit www.REALID.ilsos.gov and use the interactive document checklist to help ensure they bring the proper documents to the facility, making the process more efficient.
  • Customers are asked to please be patient at facilities as the process to apply for a REAL ID takes longer due to the multiple documents required by the federal government.
  • Customers are also encouraged to take advantage of the many online services offered allowing patrons to conduct business from home. Some online transactions include: obtaining a duplicate driver’s license or ID card, renewing vehicle registration, obtaining a driver record abstract or renewing a standard driver’s license with the Safe Driver Renewal Program.
  • Illinois REAL ID cards are now a permanent option for Illinois residents.

Staff Reporter

A Chicago area radio news veteran, Jim Moran covers statewide issues for The Center Square. Previously, he has worked as a news reporter/anchor and traffic reporter for numerous radio stations across Illinois and the St. Louis metro area.