Sentinel Progress

REAL ID revealed

PICKENS COUNTY — The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has given residents a sneak peak at the new REAL ID licenses the agency will begin issuing in January.

The new documents come on the heels of legislation passed to bring the state into compliance with the REAL ID Act, or risk residents being turned away for lack of proper and accepted credentials at airports, military bases and federal facilities.

Kevin Shwedo, executive director of the SCDMV, has been traveling around the state warning anyone and everyone who will listen to take the change in federal policy seriously.

“What does the REAL ID law mean for you? Well, it’s probably going to cause you great pain and consternation,” he said. “You — and I want to be very clear — you will not get on an airplane.”

In a previous interview with The Sentinel-Progress, Shwedo stated that although in the past there had been talks about extra security checks and pat-downs for fliers with emergencies who had not yet obtained the proper credentials, that was no longer the case.

“Bottom line, if you don’t have one — and you had a sudden death in the family out in Montana — you better get driving,” he said. “There is no provision for emergency travel without the proper identification.”

Proper identification means if you don’t have a REAL ID, you need another ID as well: passport, military ID, etc.

So, what do you need to apply for your REAL ID? Well, according to the DMV, if you obtained your very first driver’s license or ID after Nov. 2010, you’re good — the DMV already has everything they need on file to issue you a REAL ID come January.

You can even apply for it online.

However, let’s be real, that’s not most of us. Shwedo says for the rest, we have to start all over.

“It means you’ve got to dig up all your old documents: your birth certificates, your Social Security cards, marriage licenses, divorce records, court ordered name changes, proofs of address — we need it all,” he said.

The bare minimum consists of an original birth certificate, Social Security card and two mailed proofs of address — physical address, not a P.O. Box, the DMV states.

“For women, it’s even more of a pain. If your name now is not how it appears on your birth certificate — we need the documents that show why,” he said. “For every single name change: you got married and then divorced, you married again and became a widow — whatever the reason, you have to have documentation of it.”

Once people have the appropriate documents, it’s just a matter of taking them to the DMV and having them scanned into the system.

You can do that now.

The DMV has been prepping for the release for months, urging S.C. residents to plan ahead and make sure their documents are in order to avoid a rush and long lines in offices across the state.

“I don’t want to see you in the DMV, I really can’t be any more truthful or blunt about this,” Shwedo said. “If you have the chance to get all your stuff done ahead of time and can just apply online for your REAL ID, do it. We’ll mail it to you.”

Shwedo said the department is expecting the demand for the REAL IDs to high once they become available — which is going to make lines longer.

If you’re not sure whether the DMV has your information to qualify you for a REAL ID, you can check by visiting

SCDMV is urging all residents to get their paperwork in order now for the REAL ID. is urging all residents to get their paperwork in order now for the REAL ID. Courtesy photos
The S.C. DMV REAL ID, pictured, is identified by the small gold star in the corner. S.C. DMV REAL ID, pictured, is identified by the small gold star in the corner. Courtesy photos

By Kasie Strickland

Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.