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The Real ID Act – What You MUST Know Before You Fly

Updated April 7, 2020

What Is a REAL I.D.? 

You have been hearing a lot about the REAL ID Act and enhanced driver licenses on the news. This is something that has been in the works for a long time and is important because starting October 1, 2020 (now this has been pushed back 1 year due to coronavirus), all passengers 18 and older must present one of the following to be able to board an airplane or access Federal facilities like military bases and Federal Courthouses:

  • a REAL I.D. Compliant Driver License
  • OR a Valid Passport
  • OR a Valid Global Entry Card
  • OR a Valid Military I.D.

This means that beginning October 1st of 2021 you will no longer be able to board an airfare with a normal driver license. It must be Real I.D. compliant.

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Related: U.S. Passport Rules Have Changed – Here is What You Need to Know

How Do I Know If My License Will Work?

The compliant licenses will have a yellow or gold STAR in the upper right corner, and will also have special coding on the back of the license. 

Non-compliant licenses will clearly state “NOT FOR REAL I.D. PURPOSES” in the upper right corner on the front of the license.

Is your state Real ID Act compliant? Check here.

Tip: Remember to allow up to 15 days for processing, so don’t wait until the 10/01/20 Real ID Act deadline!

How Do I Get A Compliant License?

First, look at your current driver license or state I.D. card to see when it expires.

  • If it expires before September, 2020, you can apply for a REAL I.D.-compliant license when you renew.
  • If it expires after 10/01/20, you will have to renew your license before it expires; so mark your calendar for later this year to go to the License Bureau and get your license renewed.

When you go to get your driver license renewed, you have the option of getting a regular license or a compliant license.  The clerk will ask which you prefer.

There is no additional charge to get a REAL I.D. compliant license, but additional forms of identification are required when you renew your driver license to conform to the REAL I.D system.

You must have the following documents to prove ALL of the four requirements:

  1. Proof of identity and lawful status (Accepted documents: Valid Passport Book, Passport Card, Certified U.S. Birth Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization or Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Valid Permanent Residence Card)
  2. Social Security Number (Accepted documents: Social Security Card – must be signed & cannot be laminated or altered, W-2 Form showing your Social Security Number, Pay Stub showing your Social Security Number, Tax Return showing your Social Security Number)
  3. Proof of residency-2 documents (Accepted documents: Utility Bill, Voter Registration, Card, Bank Statement, Pay Stub, Property Tax Receipt, Real Estate Tax Receipt, Homeowners Policy or Auto Insurance Policy or Card, Driver License or Auto License Renewal Post Card)

Tip: Additional items may be required if your current legal name is different from the name on your birth certificate or other documents.  You may need certified copies of your marriage license, divorce decree, or adoption papers to prove the name change.

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