Jennifer Brooks
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Nine in 10 Minnesota driver’s licenses come stamped with a warning.

“Not for federal identification.”

On Oct. 1, 2020, officials at airports and federal buildings will start taking that warning seriously.

Your old Minnesota ID won’t get you far. You won’t be able to fly with it. You won’t be able to get past security in a federal building with it.

For that, you’re going to need a Real ID. Your old license will be about as valid as Monopoly money when you’re trying to clear an airport checkpoint.

Minnesotans have two options. We can dig out a bunch of documents — passports, birth certificates, Social Security cards, W2s, utility bills — and get in line at Driver and Vehicle Services, shell out another $32 and get a federally sanctioned license.

Or we keep doing what we’ve been doing, which is nothing.

Never underestimate the lengths people will go to avoid a long line. As of January, less than 11% of Minnesotans had Real IDs.

The remaining 3.7 million of us are locked in a long Minnesota goodbye with our unReal IDs.

Is it really worth getting back in line before the old license expires? Some people will be fine without one.

A passport will get you through any TSA checkpoint.

But a lot of Americans don’t have, or can’t afford, a passport.

Last October, the U.S. Travel Association estimated that 99 million Americans didn’t have a Real ID or a passport. Real ID could ground almost a third of the country.

The federal government came up with the idea of Real ID in 2005, hoping to create a uniform nationwide standard for identification. The idea was to make Americans safer. Or at least to make them feel safer.

Despite 15 years of warning and nagging, Americans seem to be in no rush to get Real.

Fewer than 40% of Iowans have a Real ID. About 40% of Wisconsin residents have one.

That alone may be enough to get Minnesotans in line. Any federal mandate that Wisconsin can comply with, Minnesota can comply better.

The one thing state officials really hope to avoid is 3.7 million Minnesotans all crowding in to get a new license on Sept. 30. Which is a valid fear for anyone who’s watched Minnesotans try to zipper merge.

“We really encourage people to apply sooner rather than later,” Bruce Gordon, communications director for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said diplomatically. If you’re flying to Hawaii for Christmas, don’t wait until Thanksgiving to apply. It’s January and the DVS is just starting to process Real ID applications from mid-November 2019.

To shorten the wait, the state is encouraging everyone to preapply online at drive.mn.gov, which will spare you from filling out forms on clipboards.

Half a million Minnesotans have a Real ID.

The rest of us have 259 days to make up our minds. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety will be waiting.

jennifer.brooks@startribune.com 612-673-4008

Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @stribrooks