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The REAL-ID deadline has been delayed again. What does this mean for traveling through airport security and boarding your flight? Here is the essential information you need to make sure that you can get through airport security, the new deadline for getting a REAL-ID and information on whether your kids need a REAL-ID.
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?
After many delays, the deadline for getting a REAL-ID is now 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.
TravelingMom 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 (the office that issues driver’s licenses) 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 that have been 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.
This new deadline comes after many delays — this latest delay moved the deadline from October 2021. Several state lawmakers requested the delay because they said the pandemic slowed down their ability to issue REAL-ID compliant.
Many DMV offices were closed to in-person service during the pandemic and REAL-ID paperwork needs to be presented in person at DMV offices.
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.
In addition to extending the REAL-ID deadline, TSA announced it will accept expired driver’s licenses as identification: “If your driver’s license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint. TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses or state-issued IDs for 1 year after expiration,” TSA says.
For additional information on going through airport security now, read these TSA FAQs.
TSA will allow those with driver’s licenses that expired beginning March 1, and who are not able to renew their license, to use it as acceptable ID at checkpoints for 1 year after expiration date, plus 60 days after the #COVID19 national emergency: https://t.co/wn6dItY9zB pic.twitter.com/4MP04hQhma
— TSA (@TSA) March 17, 2020
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 My 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, a passport is still required.
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.