Real ID — the US requirement that identity documents to be standardized — is coming to America. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline has been postponed to Oct. 1, 2021. What does that mean for traveling through airport security and boarding your flight? Here is the essential information you need to make sure that you are Real ID-compliant and ready to fly!
What is Real ID?
The concept for Real ID goes back almost 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 sets the minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Starting October 1, 2021, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will accept only state-issued IDs that meet the Real ID requirements.
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.
What Does Real ID Look Like and What Does It Cost?
Real ID cards will generally have a 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 DMV to make sure yours meets the Real ID requirements for your state.
The cost for a Real ID-compliant card will vary 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.
Do I Need a Real ID to Fly in 2020?
The Real ID Act takes effect on October 1, 2021. The deadline was delayed a year when the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the US economy and closes most state DMVs. Until Oct. 1, 2021, the sources of identification you currently use are still acceptable documents for air travel this year.
However, it will be a wise step to begin looking into a Real ID compliant license now, before the rush of people delays the process leading up to October of next year. (Remember, if you cannot produce an acceptable form of identification – such as a Real ID license, a permanent resident card, or a passport – you will not be permitted through security checkpoints, making it impossible for you to fly within the United States.)
In addition to extending the Real ID deadline, TSA announced it will accept expired driver’s licenses as identification. The licence can be expired for up to one year plus 60 days after the coronavirus pandemic is declared over.
Also, passengers can take up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer through security in a carryon bag. And TSA is recommending that passengers places wallets, cell phones, keys and other personal items inside a carryon rather than placing them in TSA bins.
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.
What Do I Need to Do to Get a Real ID?
The process for getting a Real ID compliant license or ID card starts with a visit to your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Go in person (not online) to present proof of identity so that your DMV office can issue you an updated ID.
In Virginia, for example, upgrading a driver’s license or ID card to meet Real ID requirements is pretty straightforward. It is very similar to obtaining a regular driver’s license or ID card. All applicants for a REAL ID compliant credential must provide the DMV with physical documentation of:
- Identity: (e.g. An unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate)
- Legal Presence: (e.g. Unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate)
- Social Security Number: (e.g. Social Security card , W-2 form or pay stub)
- Residency (two proofs required): (e.g. utility bills, mortgage statements, driver’s license displaying current residential street address)
- Proof of any name changes (e.g. marriage certificates or divorce decrees, stating your legal name)
TravelingMom Tip: Set an appointment with your local DMV as soon as possible to avoid the last-minute rush to beat the October 2021 deadline.
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 substitution for a valid passport for international travel. For travel outside of the United States, a passport is still a requirement. 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.