Ohio is Changing Their Driver’s License- What You Need to Know to Renew Yours

Ohio has changed its driver license and most of the population doesn’t know anything about it. The result? Confusion, frustration and anger when you go to the BMV and try to renew your license. So, before you waste a trip because you don’t understand the changes or don’t have the correct documents, read our article so you can get your license without any trouble.

So, what’s changed?

Ohio introduced its new Driver’s License and ID card July 2, 2018. Two options are now available: the Compliant or Standard card. What’s the difference? The compliant option meets national security requirements for air travel. The next paragraph explains the need for two licenses and why air travel requires a different license.

Why is the license changing?

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act. This act set minimum security standards for sources of identification, the most common being driver’s licenses. The most important part of this Act PROHIBITS Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and ID cards from states that do not meet these standards.

Why would air travel be affected? Because the organization that checks your ID at the airport security checkpoint- the Transportation Security Administration- is a federal agency.

Since most driver’s licenses don’t meet the minimum security standards set by this act, then it’s necessary to create new licenses that do.

How soon am I required to have my new license?

October 1, 2020 is the date the Act requires that all U.S. residents have a REAL ID compliant license.

REMEMBER, you only need a Compliant license for air travel, accessing federal facilities and access to nuclear power plants. If you have no intention of doing any of those things, then a Standard license would work fine and the dates we’re discussing don’t matter.

HOWEVER, if you think you may fly in the future or will have a need to access a federal facility, then we recommend you go ahead and get your compliant license at your next license renewal. It’ll save a lot of time and aggravation, and not ruin any last minute travel plans.

So what’s the process for getting an Ohio “compliant” driver’s license?

For both the standard and compliant cards, you still need to go to the local deputy registrar’s office- that process has NOT changed. However, the compliant license requires additional forms of documentation to prove your identity. Here are the six categories of identity verification required:

  1.  Full legal name
  2.  Date of birth
  3.  Proof of U.S. Legal Presence
  4.  Social Security Number
  5.  Proof of Address (TWO documents required)
  6.  Legal Name Change (if applicable)

The Ohio BMV has a very helpful checklist creator– it lists many types of documents, which category it satisfies (from the 6 shown above) and helps you create the checklist so you can easily gather your documents to take to the deputy registrar. 

Real-life example- getting a Compliant License

For most people, getting your compliant license is easy provided you have the correct documents.

One of our own staff- Carrie- recently got her compliant license. She first used the checklist mentioned above to help gather the correct documents. Here’s the documents she took with her to the deputy registrar and what category each satisfied:

  • Full legal name, date of birth and Proof of U.S. Legal presence- birth certificate
  •  Social Security Number- Social Security card
  •  Proof of address- current water bill and checking account bank statement
  •  Legal name change as last name does not match name on birth certificate- Marriage license

You can easily see that one document can satisfy multiple categories, which certainly helps with the amount of paperwork you need to bring.

Once the documents were verified, the normal license renewal procedure took place, including the vision exam. A new photo was also taken for the new license.

The old license was perforated in the top left corner to show it was no longer valid. A paper document (Ohio interim documentation) with all license information and the new picture was attached to the old license. Both serve as a temporary license, so you need to carry both.  

The new license arrived about 10 days later, via mail, in a plain white envelope (so if you get a plain white envelope, don’t throw it away!)

The most common reason licenses are delayed? Wrong address. So make sure your correct address is listed on the renewal application and on the documents needed to prove your address. You are asked multiple times to verify your address, so there should be no mistake. 

What’s the big takeaway for me?

At your next driver license renewal, you will have the option to get either a Compliant or Standard license. The choice is yours, but the Compliant license requires additional documentation to prove your identity. If you fly or plan to fly, need access to federal facilities or a nuclear power plant, you are required to have a compliant license.

If you have no need for any of the above, then a standard license will work, and you’ll go through the license renewal process like you have before.

You can read FAQ’s and create a checklist of documents required for a compliant license at Ohio BMV website.

Hopefully this article helps you understand Ohio’s new driver’s license and makes it easier for you to get yours. 

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