If you look in your wallet, you’ll probably find what you consider to be your real ID — a driver’s license or state identification card. However, the Transportation Security Administration is more concerned about REAL ID, a program passed by Congress in 2005 that sets security standards for various forms of identification. Starting on Oct. 1, 2020, every traveler 18 years or older must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, or another acceptable form of identification, to fly within the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
So what should you do to avoid any potential issues?
- Generally, the government says, REAL ID-compliant licenses will have a star on the top part of the card. Travelers who are not sure if their ID is compliant should check with their state driver’s license agency to find out if it is, and how they can get a new one.
- The other acceptable forms of ID are a valid passport, a federal government PIV card, or a U.S. military ID. Make sure that your passport is updated by Oct. 1, 2020. According to the State Department, the current processing time for routine service ranges from six to eight weeks. The slow season for renewals runs between September and December. You can find all the information for a first-time passport application or renewal at U.S. Department of State website.
Remember, without one of the accepted forms of identification or a REAL ID-compliant license, individuals will not be permitted to enter TSA checkpoints and will not be allowed to fly. The TSA’s REAL ID page explains everything in detail, along with an FAQ page.
This story originally was posted August 14, 2017. It was updated July 17, 2019.