Real ID Act and What You Need To Know

If you are a frequent flyer, you will want to be sure to update your ID to a Real ID before October 2020. Don’t miss an important meeting or family gathering, and don’t be that person who makes everyone else wait in line. Get prepared for the Real ID Act before it takes effect!

Real IDs are set to become a new requirement in the security process for flying in the United States, and if you don’t take the necessary steps to prepare for the changes, you won’t be going anywhere.

Real ID Act

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, all travelers 18 years of age and older will be required to have a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, or another acceptable form of identification, to fly in the United States. Minors do not need Real ID-compliant identification as long as they are accompanied by a compliant adult.

The Real ID Act was originally passed by Congress in 2005 following a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission that the federal government increase standards and security for identification. The legislation established new regulations for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, and instructs federal agencies not to accept identification that does not meet those standards for official purposes, such as at airport security checkpoints.

Real ID

Get Your Real ID

How do you know if your current driver’s license or identification card is Real ID-compliant? Generally, compliant IDs have a star in the upper-right hand corner of the card. If you’re still not sure, contact your state driver’s license agency.

If you don’t have a Real ID, you still have time to get one before the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline, but you’ve got some work to do. Real IDs cannot be obtained online or through the mail, so you’ll have to visit a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in person. When you do, bring the following:

  • A passport, birth certificate or other original, certified document that provides evidence of your identity
  • Two documents that provide proof of residence, such as a mortgage statement, rental agreement or utility bill
  • A document that shows your Social Security number
  • Payment to cover the fee for the new driver’s license or identification card

Additional documents may be required if you have changed your legal name. Contact your local DMV before you make the trip to verify that you have everything you need.

Real ID Act

Which Documents do I Need to apply for a California REAL ID?

To apply for a REAL ID driver license or identification card, you must visit a DMV field office and provide:

  1. Proof of identity (one document)
    Example: an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, employment authorization, permanent resident card or unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. visa and approved I-94 form. No photocopies will be accepted.
  2. Proof of Social Security number (one document)  
    Example: a Social Security card, W-2 or paystub with full SSN. Original or certified copies are required. No photocopies will be accepted.
  3. Proof of California residency – street address. (Two different documents)
    Example: Utility or cell phone bill, rental agreement, mortgage statement or medical document. Photocopies accepted.

NOTE: If your identity document shows a different name, you will need to provide a certified name change document such as a marriage license, divorce decree or court document. Multiple name change documents will be needed if your legal name has changed multiple times. The name on your Social Security document also must match your name change document. Original or certified copies are required. No photocopies will be accepted.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, all travelers 18 years of age and older will have to have a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, or another acceptable form of identification, to fly in the United States.

real id act

Other Options for Travel

In addition to Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, the following documents are also acceptable for flying within the United States:

  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (e.g., Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

Note: Weapon permits and temporary driver’s licenses are not acceptable forms of ID.

Avoid Turbulence With a Real ID

Oct. 1, 2020 might seem like it is quite far in the future, but don’t procrastinate in getting your Real ID. In the months leading up to the deadline, DMV offices may be busier than usual as others scramble to get their new driver’s licenses and identification cards, so you may not be able to get an appointment for several weeks.

As of July 30, 2019, all but four states (Oregon, Oklahoma, New Jersey and Maine) and their state-issued identification forms are compliant with the Real ID Act. Travelers living in a compliant state can continue to use identification that is not Real ID-compliant until the Oct. 1 deadline. However, if you are in a non-compliant state that has been granted an extension to reach compliance, you can only use that type of ID until the expiration date of that extension. Between the extension expiring and the Oct. 1 deadline, you may need additional or alternate forms.

Click here for more information on the Real ID Act.

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