CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) -- If you haven't heard yet about the requirements of a REAL ID yet, you will soon.
That's because Rhode Island's Division of Motor Vehicles will be spreading the word big time starting next month, with print and online advertisements, television public service announcements and billboards.
Eyewitness News has been tracking the journey this year to get Rhode Islanders compliant with the federal system, which lays down uniform ground rules for how a resident can get a driver's license or state ID card, the information recorded on that card and the proofs of identity required to get it.
The Rhode Island DMV started issuing REAL ID-compliant cards last week, and so far, about 1,400 have been issued.
The DMV held a news conference Tuesday for the state's news outlets to draw attention to what an applicant will need to bring, or obtain, to get the special status.
However, the DMV stresses that for drivers and residents not to rush to switch to the REAL ID.
"Their current licenses and IDs are valid right through their expiration dates, and [they] should wait for their normal renewal period to come in," Paul Grimaldi of the Rhode Island DMV said.
Dozens of additional employees have been hired at the DMV to help deal with the added workload.
What's the point of this different, changed ID system anyway? Here's a review of differences:
DIFFERENCE NUMBER ONE: A REAL ID is indicated by a gold or yellow circle with a star cut out of it in the upper right-hand corner.
DIFFERENCE NUMBER TWO: You must apply for a REAL ID in person.
But you can make that in-person application at your local AAA branch if you're a member -- or at a DMV branch if you're not.
You don't have to opt-in for the gold star, said Grimaldi, since it's an optional program. (And there's no cost difference.)
The state of Rhode Island can continue to issue non-REAL IDs where the identity of the applicant isn't assured by federal standards, such as to "Dreamers."
DIFFERENCE NUMBER THREE: You will not be allowed to get on a passenger plane, enter a TSA security area, or enter certain federal buildings (such as a nuclear power plant) without a REAL ID, starting October 1, 2020.
DIFFERENCE NUMBER FOUR: There are specifics about what you must present to prove your identity. You must present two proofs of residency (such as a utility bill with your name and address on it -- or your previous license or ID card), plus a proof of Social Security (including your official Social Security card, or a recent W-2 form with your SSN on it), and a proof of identity document, such as a copy of your birth certificate, a marriage certificate or a valid U.S. passport book or passport card.
The DMV will be hosting a small annex of the Department of Health soon to allow people to get certified copies of their birth or marriage certificates for the REAL ID process.
Part of the reason for unifying standards of the IDs is to minimize the circulation of fakes, DMV officials said.
Massachusetts started offering REAL ID-compliant cards at the end of March.