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After many delays, the deadline to get a federal REAL ID is approaching and there are a few things you should know about the requirements to get yours. Do it ASAP so you don’t run into a hassle when it’s time to fly.
What is REAL ID?
The concept for REAL ID goes back two decades. After the tragic events of September 11th, the 9/11 Commission made several recommendations to improve security for access to federal facilities and commercial aircraft.
One recommendation: The federal government should set definitive standards for identification documents such as driver’s licenses.
The federal REAL-ID Act of 2005 set minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards.
What’s the REAL ID Deadline?
The current deadline for getting a REAL ID is May 3, 2023.
After that date, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will allow only people with state-issued IDs that meet the REAL ID requirements to go through security at US airports.
Applies to US Domestic Flights ONLY
Just to be clear: REAL ID applies to flying within the United States only. This change does not impact identification documents needed to travel abroad. You’ll still need a valid passport for that.
In addition to being able to board domestic flights, Real ID compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards (sometimes known as a walker’s ID, for those who don’t drive) can be used to access federal buildings, including military bases and nuclear power plants.
SheBuysTravel Tip: You can use your passport as an acceptable form of ID to board domestic flights as well as international flights.
What Does REAL ID Look Like and What Does It Cost?
REAL-ID cards will generally have a gold or black star at the top of the card, usually in the top right-hand corner. If you’re not sure if yours is compliant, it’s easy to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to make sure yours meets the REAL ID requirements for your state.
The cost for a REAL ID-compliant card varies from state to state. It is up to each state to determine if upgrading a driver’s license or ID card is equivalent to the cost of a renewal, a duplicate or a brand new license.
How Do I Get a REAL ID?
You must go in person to your local DMV with documents that prove your age and identity, Social Security number and address.
That generally means presenting a birth certificate or passport, a Social Security card or tax form such as a W-2, and two proofs of address, such as utility bills mailed to you. If you’ve changed your name through marriage, you also need bring your marriage certificate.
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Can I Fly Without a REAL ID?
Yes. Until May 3, 2023, anyone can fly without a REAL ID. After May 3, 2023 (unless it gets delayed yet again), anyone age 18 or older must have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or another TSA-acceptable form of identification, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.
Until May 3, 2023, the sources of identification you currently use are still acceptable documents for air travel this year: REAL ID license, non-REAL ID standard drivers license, permanent resident card, a passport, U.S. military ID, Enhanced ID (offered in some states) or an ID from the federal government’s Trusted Traveler Program. Any of those forms of ID will get you access to security checkpoints at US airports.
Driver’s licenses which expired on or after March 1, 2020 are still being accepted by TSA. They will accept the license for up to one year after the license is expired.
For additional information on going through airport security now, read these TSA FAQs.
Do I Need a REAL ID if I Have a Passport?
A REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card is necessary if you use either as your primary identification for when you fly within the U.S.
However, there are several other forms of ID that will still be acceptable identification, including a valid passport or a military ID. You can visit the TSA website to see a complete list of acceptable identity documents.
Do Kids Need a REAL ID?
The REAL ID Act only applies to those over 18. From the TSA website: “TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. The companion will need acceptable identification.”
What Else Do I Need to Know About REAL ID?
A REAL ID is not a substitute for a valid passport for international travel. For travel outside of the United States, you still must present a valid passport.
In addition, a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card is not required for entering federal facilities such as museums that do not require a person to present identification.