New Jersey rolls out Real ID program as federal deadline approaches

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New Jersey has officially rolled out its Real ID program with less than a month to go before a federal deadline.

The identification card is not mandatory, but is required to use as identification to fly on an airplane. The IDs require more documentation than a standard driver’s license.

“You know that person has been vetted, that those documents are real,” says New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness director Jared Maples.

The program is now up and running at the Motor Vehicle Commission facility in Trenton and will be tested at five more locations around the state. A white star on the ID will identify it as a Real ID.

RELATED: Looking to fly in October 2020 without a passport? You need a Real ID 

"So, whether it be a law enforcement stop, whether...that be getting onto those planes, the people know it's an added layer of security for everyone around you, not just yourself,” Maples says.

A Real ID will cost $11 and is available by appointment only. MVC chief administrator Sue Fulton says Real ID appointments should be available in every region of New Jersey by Thanksgiving.

"The rollout we are announcing today is a phased rollout, so that New Jersey avoids the kind of long lines and missteps that other states have experienced with real ID,” Fulton says.

The rollout had been slated for late May or early June, but was delayed. Wednesday's rollout is less than a month before an Oct. 10 federal deadline to offer Real ID-compliant licenses.

"But even though this administration took over far behind other states in issuing Real ID, we are on track now to be one of the most successful in the country, achieving the goal of ensuring that New Jerseyans who want Real ID are able to get it before they need it,” says Fulton.

Fulton says that the MVC has fixed 90 bugs in the system since June. The commission added more staff this year and replaced all its servers.

"And of course, no one's required to get a Real ID. The standard New Jersey driver license or non-driver ID will remain available and is valid for most non-federal purposes, including well, driving,” says Fulton.

Drivers who want to make a Real ID appointment can go to RealIDNJ.com.

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