Americans looking to travel by air domestically or enter federal government facilities without showing a U.S. passport will need to obtain a REAL ID, an updated driver’s license that complies with new federal standards, by May 3, 2023. But the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday announced that it won’t enforce the Real ID requirement for another two full years, with a new deadline of May 7, 2025.
Obtaining a REAL ID isn’t mandatory for every U.S. citizen, and current driver’s licenses aren’t going away. States that are REAL ID-compliant are still allowed to issue licenses that aren’t considered REAL IDs, so it’s important to clarify with the Department of Motor Vehicle that you are specifically requesting a REAL ID. The requirement was initially slated to begin way back in 2008 but has been delayed for a variety of reasons, including because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to get one you’ll need a bit more documentation than is required for a regular license and you might have to pay a higher fee, too. Here’s what to know about the Real ID and how to get yours before the deadline.
WHAT IS REAL ID? Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the Federal Government “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 prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. These purposes are:
Accessing certain federal facilities
Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft
Entering nuclear power plants
WHAT HAPPEN WHEN THE REAL ID ENFORCEMENT DATE BEGINS? Federal agencies, including DHS and TSA, may only accept state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards as identification for purposes of accessing federal facilities - including TSA airport security checkpoints - if the license or card was issued by a REAL ID compliant state in accordance with the REAL ID security standards (meaning the license or card must include the REAL ID compliant star marking). Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) issued by Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-compliant cards and will also be accepted for official REAL ID purposes. Most EDLs do not contain the star marking and this is acceptable. HOW TO I GET A REAL ID?
Visit your state’s driver’s licensing agency website to find out exactly what documentation is required to obtain a REAL ID. At a minimum, you must provide documentation showing: 1) Full Legal Name; 2) Date of Birth; 3) Social Security Number; 4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence; and 5) Lawful Status.
States may impose additional requirements, so check with your state’s driver’s licensing agency website, before visiting them in person, for additional guidance and assistance. For more information regarding Real ID requirements, benefits and the Real ID Act of 2005: https://www.dhs.gov/real-id/about-real-id