TRENTON — The state Motor Vehicle Commission is getting ready to issue REAL ID driver licenses — and officials are expecting to see longer lines than usual.

After Oct. 1, 2020, if you want to use your driver license to board a commercial aircraft or enter a federal building, you will need a REAL ID license that follows strict Homeland Security protocols.

Travelers still will be able to use a valid passport as identification to get on a plane and New Jersey will still offer standard driver licenses for those who don’t want a REAL ID.

During a news conference on Tuesday, MVC chief administrator Sue Fulton said REAL ID will be launched next month, but only at one site in order to "work out the kinks." The first site has not been identified.

Fulton does not think it will take a year for all 39 MVC offices to be offering REAL ID.

She said the initial roll-out will begin slowly because “one of the things we want to make sure we do is get this right.”

The website will let people know when the agency closest to them will start issuing REAL IDs.

The website also has detailed information about the types of identification applicants will need to present in order to get a REAL ID license.

During the Beta-testing phase, for people whose driver license expires before October 2020, a REAL ID will cost the standard $24 renewal fee.

For people whose licenses expire after October 2020, they can apply for a REAL ID beforehand and pay an $11 change fee.

Over the next six months:

  • All 39 MVC servers will be replaced along with more than 1,200 computers, keyboards and monitors.
  • The MVC’s point-of-sale payment system is being replaced with cloud-based technology that expands the ability to scan credit cards and licenses.
  • A new queuing system at all MVC offices will track wait times for each stage of a transaction, and will allow managers to speed customer flow.

Fulton said she’s confident everyone who wants to get a REAL ID before Oct. 1, 2020, will be able to do so.

“There are going to be crowds, there are going to be long lines — we know this," she said.

The MVC will be hiring an additional 200 staffers while hours and schedules will be altered to have more employees at MCV offices when they open and to make it easier to visit an MVC office on Saturday.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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