Real ID Resource Page

Homeland Security/TSA Real ID Resources & Video

What is Real ID?

Formulated in the wake of September 11 and passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act was passed to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, and it prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes. It was aimed at eliminating airline terrorism by increasing requirements to obtain documents granting access to domestic planes.

State agencies that issue licenses and identification cards, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, require more paperwork regarding proof of residency and Social Security Number under the new act than necessary to obtain standard licenses. In addition, the cards themselves will also be built using new technology, making them much more difficult to forge.

It has taken the federal government nearly 15 years to implement the act fully — a gradual process that has been met by some confusion as each state has a different status. However, all states will need to be in compliance by October 1, 2020.

In most states, there is a gold or black star on the front of the license that will signify compliance. If you see this, then you’re good to go. An easy way to know your card is not compliant is if it says “Not for Federal Identification” or “Federal Limits Apply.”

Airports are considered federal facilities, and therefore this act affects your ability to enter them in order to board your flight.

Starting October 1, 2020, every state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license/ID or another acceptable form of identification (like a passport or passport card) for accessing federal facilities — including boarding commercial aircraft.

You will have until October 1, 2020 to obtain a Real ID compliant license. So just check your license to be sure.

If it is Real ID compliant, there will be a star in the top right corner; many drivers may not realize they already have one, since some states have been issuing them for a few years.


What if I don't get a Real ID? :
If you are not in compliance with the REAL ID Act by your state’s deadline, you will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board your flight. 

What doesn't Real ID apply to?
A Real ID is NOT a substitute for a passport for international travel. There are also a few other things that Real ID doesn’t affect.

Real ID requirements don’t apply to:

  • Voting or registering to vote
  • .Applying for or receiving federal benefits.
  • Being licensed by a state to drive.
  • Entering federal facilities that do not require identification.
  • Accessing health- or life-preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings).
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigation.

You can continue to use your regular license or identification to do all of the items above without obtaining a Real ID.

What is the Real ID card?

A Real ID is a form of identification that meets increased security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Travelers will be required to provide either a real ID or another TSA-approved form of identification in order to fly after October 1, 2020.

Which states have Real ID?
Currently, all states are either in compliance with the Real ID Act or have an extension in place. This means that they are currently able to issue Real IDs. 

Do you need a Real ID to fly?
A Real ID is one valid form of identification you can use in order to fly. However, there are many other TSA-approved forms of identification that are also acceptable. Note that you will still need your US passport in order to travel internationally.

Do I need a real ID to fly domestic?
A Real ID is one valid form of identification you can use in order to fly. However, there are many other TSA-approved forms of identification that are also acceptable. Be sure to check out our graphic above for other documents that will be accepted at airport security.

Do I need a passport if I have a Real ID?
If you are travelling internationally, you will still need your US passport. If you are travelling domestically, you will only need one valid form of identification – either your real ID OR your passport, not both.

What documents are needed for a Real ID?
States require you to go to your local DMV and present 1) proof of identity, 2) proof of your Social Security Number, 3) proof of residency document, and 4) if applicable, proof of name change document.

Do my kids need a Real ID?
TSA does not currently require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. So as long as you have your documents in order, kids will not need a Real ID.