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Changes to Florida Driver Licenses, IDs, on the Way


As Floridians renew their drivers’ licenses and ID cards in the coming months, they’ll notice some new features, which are there for a reason.

“In 2017, the Department rolled out a brand new credential; that provided our customers with the most secure, over-the-counter credential on the market,” said Alexis Bakofsky with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

She adds the agency wants to stay ahead of the curve through modifications, to ensure the safety of the documents, with two major changes.

“On the back of the card, you’ll see that there’s no more magnetic strip, and the 2-D barcode has been moved to the top,” Bakofsky says. “On the front of the card, the most significant feature is in the bottom right-hand corner; you have a ‘tech-tile’ feature. It’s subtle, but if you run your finger over it, it’s a little raised area that customers can feel.”

The new IDs, says Bakofsky, should be available statewide by the end of August. She adds that the changes are not in response to any report of those attempting to alter their current licenses or IDs for illicit reasons.

Credit Dept. of Motor Vehicles and Safety
Florida drivers' licenses/ID cards are getting a new look, more data.

“We know that people do try to do counterfeit, or alter credentials; so we want to make sure that we can continue to make modifications and improvements to ensure that Florida’s credentials remain safe for all of our customers.”

But don’t look for a mass rush to the local DMV office. If you have a valid credential, you have until it expires — although the design will be completely phased out after March 2027.

“We’re implementing this in offices statewide; every office and online should see the modified credential by the end of August,” says Bakofsky. “Customers do not have to go in right away to renew their card, unless of course it’s expiring, or they have to make a change like a name change or an address change.”

With the removal of the magnetic strip, the agency is now able to place additional data elements to the card, such as renewal data on the back of the card. That, in turn, is expected to shorten — or end — those marathon waits at DMV offices.

Also on the new cards is a change, compliments of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has an October 1, 2020 deadline to become “real ID compliant.”

“More than 90% of all driver license and ID card holders in the state will see the gold star in the upper right-hand corner,” says Bakofsky. “You’ll have to be ‘Real ID’ compliant to fly within the United States. So we encourage customers, if you don’t see the gold star, come into an office and become Real ID compliant today.”

That requirement also includes license and ID holders whose cards expire after that deadline. One more piece of advice from Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Alexis Bakofsky — keep the data on it to yourself as much as possible. 

“The credential is secure, and while getting a driver license is a very exciting thing, don’t share it on social media,” says Bakofsky. “We encourage you not to take a picture of it. Everything on your driver license is protected and we hope to keep it that way.”

To learn more about the modifications, visit www.flhsmv.gov/newDL.