Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the Federal Government "set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver licenses." The state legislature passed and Governor Burgum signed the final implementation bill for REAL ID during the 65th Legislative Session in 2017. 

REAL ID implements security processes designed to reduce identity fraud and provide the highest certainty that the individual with the identity document in front of you is who they say they are. Documents scanned will verify birthplace, current residence, etc. REAL ID prohibits federal agencies from accepting driver licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet requirements for official purposes, such as boarding an airplane or obtaining access to a federal building.


As of October 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security has provided a waiver to the State of North Dakota for compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005. This means the current ND Driver License and Identification Card is accepted for access into federal facilities, including military installations, and boarding aircraft until May 7, 2025. After May 7, 2025, only REAL ID-compliant credentials will be accepted for this purpose.


REAL ID Driver Licenses

A REAL ID driver license allows a North Dakota resident to use their driver license as a form of identification to complete domestic airline travel and access federal facilities, such as a federal courthouse or airbase.

Your present license remains valid until its expired date, as North Dakota has received a waiver from the US Department of Homeland Security. This means your current ND driver license and identification card is accepted for access into federal facilities, including military installations, and boarding aircraft until May 7, 2025.

See the following examples of REAL ID Driver Licenses (after August 2023 and before August 2023). Note, REAL ID has a gold star in the upper right corner. Non-Federal ID does not have a gold star.

REAL ID and non-REAL ID examples from after August 2023
REAL ID and non-REAL ID examples from before August 2023.

Required Documentation

Required Documentation

To obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver license, permit, or ID card, you must present proper documentation from the REAL ID Checklist provided below. Documentation from each category (1, 2, 3 and 4) is required. Make sure you have all the required documents.

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Category 1: Proof of Identification

All individuals applying for a permit, license, or identification card must show proof of identity, date of birth, and legal presence in the United States by presenting one of the documents listed below.

  • U.S. Birth Certificate (state certified; government issued)
  • U.S. Territory Birth Certificate
  • Valid, unexpired U.S. Passport or U.S Passport Card
  • Report of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Department of State
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card
  • Valid, unexpired Employment Authorization Card
  • Valid, unexpired Foreign Passport with I-94
  • I-94 Card stamped Refugee or Asylee

Note: No photocopies or hospital certificates will be accepted. All documents must be original or certified copies only.

Individuals born in North Dakota may obtain a copy of their certified birth certificate by contacting Vital Records at the North Dakota Department of Health.

Individuals born in another state may access vital record offices through https://www.vitalrec.com or https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm.

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Category 2: Proof of Name Change

If your current name is different from the name on your identity document (see above), you will need to bring additional proof of your legal name. Acceptable documents for proof of name change are:

  • Certified, government-issued marriage certificate
  • Certified adoption document
  • Certified court order authorizing a name change (no photocopies; court seal required)
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Category 3: Proof of Social Security Number

You must provide proof of your Social Security number. All documents must contain your name and full Social
Security number. Please select one document from the list below: 

  • Social Security Card (the blue and white paper card)
  • W-2 Form
  • SSA 1099 Form
  • Non-SSA 1099 Form
  • Pay stub (must contain name and Social Security number)
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Category 4: Proof of North Dakota Residence Address

Provide proof of North Dakota residence address by presenting two documents from the list below. In the event you are unable to provide the required documents, please contact 855-633-6835 for guidance on potential alternatives.

  • Most current government-issued property tax statement
  • Current mortgage/lease/rental document
  • Current homeowner's/renter's insurance policy
  • Current utility bill (electricity, gas, water, sewer, cable, recycle)
  • School/College Transcript issued within 6 months
  • Current financial statement (issued by financial institution, government entity, government-regulated entity)
  • Current pay stub or statement from employer
  • Current vehicle insurance policy/statement
  • Current resident certificate or Tribal ID issued by a North Dakota Tribe with North Dakota resident address
  • Current formal resident statement issued by property owner/renter
  • Relief Agency or Shelter Certification
  • Parent's proof of address for minor child (under 18)

Note: All documents must contain your name and current physical residence address. Post Office Boxes are not acceptable proof of residence address. No photocopies; all documents must be original or certified copies only.


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Where can I get my REAL ID?

REAL ID documents can be obtained at the following Driver License Sites across the state during regular business hours.

Full-time sites: Bismarck, Minot, Fargo, Williston, Dickinson, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, and Jamestown

Part-time sites: Beulah, Bottineau, Bowman, Grafton, Harvey, Linton, Oakes, Rolla, Valley City, Wahpeton, and Watford City

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What happens to the information collected?

Unlike a passport, REAL ID information is scanned and retained in the state driver license system. It is state data, so it is kept in-state only. The federal REAL ID Act of 2005 has no requirement for this data to be shared with anyone. We do not share personal private information except as provided in NDCC 39-33.

The bill approved by the legislature in 2017 makes these documents "not part of the public record," so the security of the data is enhanced and unobtainable for non-official purposes.

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What does the Opt-In feature mean?

The Opt-In/Opt-Out feature gives you a choice about whether you want to get a REAL ID driver license or not. If you choose to Opt-In, you will be able to use your driver license as a form of identification to complete domestic airline travel and access federal facilities.

The Opt-Out feature also lets you choose to Opt-Out of the REAL ID process and not obtain a REAL ID driver license. This means you will see no change in how you currently renew your driver license, and you will not receive a REAL ID driver license. Some people may choose to Opt-Out because they plan to use their passport for identification when traveling, or they don't plan to travel on domestic airlines or access federal facilities.

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How do I renew my ND driver license?

See Driver License Renewal for information about how and where you can renew your ND driver license.

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Does REAL ID create a federal database?

REAL ID does not create a federal database or federally controlled or issued identification document. This is accomplished by the U.S. Passport. REAL ID does not replace a passport used for international travel, such as visiting Canada or other countries. Lastly, REAL ID does not include an RFID chip inside. The Enhanced Driver License (EDL) does have a chip that provides information to a federal database.

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