Driver's licence rules increase ID requirements

By Susann Robbins

Wyoming drivers need to start preparing six months ahead of time in order to be ready to renew their driver's licenses. Those who have not looked for a birth certificate in a while should begin now.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is enforcing the federal security requirements, which were put in motion after 9/11 and passed by the Wyoming Legislature in 2009.

"As a part of the new regulations, your documents will have to be scanned in by us, which will take some more time when you are getting your license renewed," said Don Edington, program manager of driver services at WYDOT.

So what do drivers need to get a new license? According to federal security regulations and state law verification of identity, Wyoming residency and Social Security number are needed to get a Wyoming driver's license. Documents needed for U.S. citizens are a certified birth certificate; valid U.S. passport; consular report of birth abroad; certificate of citizenship or certificate of naturalization.

Acceptable documents to verify identity for non-citizens are valid foreign passports with a U.S. visa and documentation of the applicant's most recent admittance to the country; permanent resident card (green card); or employment authorization document.

If you had a recent name change you must provide documentation of that. Finally, you will need documentation of your Wyoming residency like a utility bill or a pay stub. Other information on what documentation is acceptable can be found on the WYDOT website, required at the driver's license office or you will get informational material in the mail with your reminder to renew your license, Don Edington said.

The federal government passed the Real ID Act in 2005, and it went into effect in 2008, as an aftermath of 9/11. This was done in order to protect your identity and to protect you from identity theft. As part of the act, federal and state employees also had to go through a special fraud training, which has helped increase the number of cases that were discovered, Don Edington said.

Students whose parents have their birth certificates can have them fax to the local office or the parents can go to their local driver's license office and have the documents scanned by an employee there, Edington said. If you don't have a birth certificate, you need to be informed by your state's issuing department on how long it will take to get your birth certificate and prepare accordingly.

One of the issues that keeps coming up is with U.S. citizens who were born abroad to U.S. citizens and their struggle to get their birth certificate from the foreign country, Edington said. Also foreign exchange students who live with families in Wyoming don't really have a verification of residency, but WYDOT will accept a written letter by the host family stating the student is living with them and for how long.

These new changes are harder on the older generation who must renew their license because they were born at home and their birth was never officially recorded, and, therefore, they don't have a birth certificate, Edington said. Unfortunately, they have to try to track down certification from the state in which they were born, which will require quite a bit of time and effort.

The only issue for students would be if they wait until the last minute and might not have all the required paperwork together.