No: 109-1
Date: February 24, 2005

House Passes H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act of 2005

On February 10, 2005 the House passed H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act of 2005, by a vote of 261 to 161. The bill has been sent to the Senate and referred to the Judiciary Committee, where no action has yet been scheduled. The bill would prohibit Federal agencies from accepting State issued driver's licenses or identification cards unless such documents are determined to meet minimum security requirements. It would set forth issuance standards for such documents that require, among other things: (1) evidence that the applicant is lawfully present in the United States; and (2) issuance of temporary driver's licenses or identification cards to persons temporarily present that are valid only for their period of authorized stay (or for one year where the period of stay is indefinite). Included in this legislation are the following provisions of interest to SSA:

Section 202. Minimum Document Requirements and Issuance Standards for Federal Recognition

Beginning 3 years after enactment, would prohibit a Federal agency from accepting, for any official purpose, a State-issued driver's license or identification card unless the State is issuing driver's licenses and identification cards that conform to the standards specified in this bill.

  • These standards would require a State to include, at a minimum, the following information and features on each driver's license and identification card issued to a person by the State:
    • The person's full legal name.
    • The person's date of birth.
    • The person's gender.
    • The person's driver's license or identification card number.
    • A digital photograph of the person.
    • The person's address of principle residence.
    • The person's signature.
    • Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.
    • A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.
  • Would require States to certify their compliance with the new standards to the Secretary of Transportation. The Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), may prescribe regulations establishing the time and manner of the certifications. The DHS will determine whether a State is meeting the requirements of this bill based on the certifications.
  • Under this bill, States must require, at a minimum, presentation and verification of the following information before issuing a driver's license or identification card: 1) a photo identity document, or other identity document if it includes both the person's full legal name and date of birth; 2) documentation showing the person's date of birth; 3) proof of the person's SSN or verification that the person is not eligible for an SSN; and 4) documentation showing the person's name and address of principal residence.
  • In addition, States would also be required to view evidence of lawful immigration status before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person. A State would issue a temporary driver's license or identification card (valid only for the period of authorized stay or for one year if the period of stay is indefinite) to noncitizens who are temporarily present in the United States.
  • States would be required to verify, with the issuing agency, each document required to be presented by the person to obtain a driver's license or identification card.
  • States would have to confirm with SSA the full Social Security account number presented by a person to obtain a driver's license or identification card. In the event that a Social Security account number belongs to another person, to which any State has issued a driver's license or identification card, the State would be required to resolve the discrepancy and take appropriate action.

Section 203. Linking of Databases

  • In order to receive any grant or other type of financial assistance available under this legislation, States would be required to participate in the interstate compact known as the "Driver License Agreement." This agreement would provide electronic access by a State to information contained in the motor vehicle databases of all other States.
  • The State motor vehicle database would have to contain, at a minimum:
    • All data fields printed on drivers' licenses and identification cards issued by the State.
    • Motor vehicle drivers' histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses.

Section 207. Repeal

  • Under this bill, section 7212 of PL 108-458, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, would be repealed. Section 7212 requires the Department of Transportation, in consultation with the States and DHS, to promulgate regulations establishing minimum standards for drivers' licenses or personal identification cards issued by States.