Hennepin County Government Center

The Hennepin County Government Center. 

With one year to go before standard Minnesotan driver's licenses are no longer accepted as identification in U.S. airports, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) is urging residents to apply for the REAL ID licenses that will soon replace standard licenses as federal identification. As of Sept. 25, only around 10% of Minnesotans had a REAL ID, according to a news release from the DPS.

Even under normal circumstances, heading to a Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) office isn't most people's favorite activity, and the extra documents required for a REAL ID application add another step to the process. Anna Abruzzese is the division manager for Hennepin County service centers and gave Eden Prairie News some tips about how to make the DVS experience as smooth as possible.

The most important step to getting a REAL ID is making sure you have the correct documents at your appointment, Abruzzese said. She advised applicants to check in with the staff member at the welcome desk before hopping in line: They will ensure that the applicant brought all of the materials they need and prevent a situation where the applicant waits for their turn, only to realize that they've forgotten an important document, she said.

"Knowing what you need to bring in is going to save you time," Abruzzese added.

The most frequent complaints Abruzzese hears about county offices are about wait times, she said, and there are several easy workarounds for those who don't want to spend their time in line. 

Applicants for a REAL ID should bring the following documents to their DVS appointment:

  • One document proving their identity, date of birth and legal presence in the United States. If the name on the identity document is not the same as a person's current name, bring a name change document too, like a marriage certificate, a divorce decree, or name change documentation.
  • One document proving their social security number.
  • Two different documents proving current residency in Minnesota, which must have the applicant’s name and current Minnesotan address.

Avoid Hennepin County service offices during rush hours, Abruzzese advised. The busiest times are during lunch hours, the day after a holiday, and Mondays and Fridays, she said. The offices tend to be calmer at times like 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, or 3 p.m. on a Wednesday, Abruzzese said.

Hennepin County currently allows people to schedule their appointments online ahead of time, with the assurance that applicants will be helped within 15 minutes of their scheduled appointment, Abruzzese said. Hennepin County is also testing some features that will cut down on wait times, like a check-in kiosk that will allow visitors to get some of their paperwork done digitally and a service that will text visitors when they'll be called soon, which would allow them to step out of the lobby to run a quick errand or grab a coffee, Abruzzese added.

Eden Teller is the multimedia reporter for Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about fostering productive conversations and empowering communities. When she's not reporting, she can be found reading a book, on a hike or tackling home improvement projects.

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