County Clerk Bill Knowles outlined on Thursday the benefits of REAL ID driver's licenses and that they are available to local citizens at the County Clerk's Courthouse office.
Mr. Knowles said, “I’m pleased the County Clerks 201 Courthouse office can accommodate local citizens by issuing the REAL ID driver’s license. Our office voluntarily signed a contract with the Department of Safety to help facilitate this massive State effort. Since 2019 our office has issued more than 8,900 REAL ID licenses. This partnership is proving to be a great help to local DMV stations that are primarily charged with this responsibility.”
Mr. Knowles emphasized that, “The law mandates all persons 18 years of age and older beginning May 3, 2023, must have a REAL ID license or a valid unexpired passport for boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, accessing most federal buildings and nuclear facilities. Motorists not needing clearance for either of the above reasons are not required to upgrade their driver’s license or identification card with the REAL ID designation. These motorists may choose to continue maintaining a regular State driver’s license. Non-compliant driver’s license and identification cards issued will display the phrase, NOT FOR REAL ID ACT PURPOSES.
“A REAL ID license is not required to drive, vote, prove identification when making purchases, access hospitals, visit the post office, access federal courts, or apply for and receive federal benefits such as social security or veterans’ benefits.
"The State and Federal application process for obtaining a REAL ID requires specific documents and information to apply for the license upgrade. Applicants can request the REAL ID designation within or outside of their current license expiration date. Applicants must present an original birth certificate or a valid, unexpired U.S. passport along, two proofs of Tennessee residency and a verifiable social security number. Proof of social security number is not required as long as the SSN can be verified in the state Driver’s License system. We encourage applicants to bring proof of SSN to avoid delay. Without the original Social security card , an IRS tax return or a 1099 dated within last 12 months is acceptable.
“The residency proof can be the present driver’s license with current address, voters registration card, residential gas, electric, or a water utility bill issued within the last four months. A current homeowner’s or renters insurance policy will also provide proof of residency.
“Additional name change documentation may be needed, for example; an original marriage certificate and/or certified divorce decree if the applicant’s name on their driver’s license/identification differs from the name on their birth certificate or U.S. passport. No copies, only originals or certified documents are acceptable.
“Individuals born in Tennessee not having access to an original birth certificate may apply for a duplicate at the Hamilton County Vital Records Department, 921 East Third Street, 37403. Birth certificate information may be obtained by calling (423) 209-8025."
Mr. Knowles said, “In 2005 Congress mandated The REAL ID Act for establishing minimum security, authentication and issuance standards for State driver’s license and identification cards. The law is designed to make airline transportation safer, reduce identity theft, identify fraud and crimes involving driver’s license, and support nationwide efforts to prevent terrorism."
Residents who currently have a Tennessee ID or Driver’s License can apply for a REAL ID at the Clerk’s Courthouse office. The Courthouse office is open Monday- Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and is at 625 Georgia Ave., 2nd Floor, Room 201, Chattanooga, TN 37402. Transactions require cash, Mastercard, American Express, Visa or Discover. Out of state residents transferring to Tennessee must visit a full service Driver Service Center to apply for a REAL ID License.
View the State’s complete list of document options to apply for a REAL ID compliant credential.