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Ready? REAL ID Enforcement Begins in One Year

Thursday, October 03, 2019
TSA Officer checks travel documents

By now, you may have heard the term “REAL ID” and how you will need one to travel. But in case you haven’t, here is a quick backstory.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, establishing minimum security standards for federal and state-issued IDs, like your driver’s license or identification card. Enforcement of the act will make it more difficult for the bad guys to get on airplanes, making travel safer for everyone.

Now that you know the background, we want to stress two important points: REAL ID enforcement will begin on October 1, 2020, and you MUST have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification or another form of acceptable ID in order to board a flight. If we cannot verify your identity, you will not be permitted to enter the airport security checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly.

In spite of this fast-approaching enforcement date, it’s estimated that only 27% of U.S. citizens currently have a state-issued identification that meets the REAL ID requirements. Be sure you don’t get stuck at the airport without proper ID next year. The time to prepare is now.

Check for the star.

So, what can you do to ensure you are ready for the REAL ID enforcement deadline? Begin by checking for a star. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identifications will have a star icon, similar to the examples below, displayed on the top front of the card.

Examples of REAL ID

How to get a REAL ID.

If your license isn’t compliant, you still have time before the October 1, 2020, deadline. Your state driver’s license agency can provide information about their specific issuance process. We recommend checking their website for the latest information on how to get a REAL ID-compliant license or identification.

What about Enhanced Driver’s Licenses?

State-issued enhanced driver's licenses are marked with a flag. These documents will be accepted at the airport security checkpoint when the REAL ID enforcement goes into effect.

You should also know that Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue REAL ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which are acceptable. Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only.

Example of Washington State ID

Other Acceptable IDs.

Also, if you are a frequent traveler who uses a passport or a Global Entry card as your form of identification, you’ll be happy to know that they are acceptable, along with passports, military IDs, and several other forms of identification. You can see the full list here.

TSA security doesn’t start at the airport. Once you purchase a ticket, TSA’s Secure Flight checks passenger information against watch lists. REAL ID makes it harder for people to forge identification cards making sure no one who is on a watch list boards your flight. We want you to have a safe trip!

Safe travels!

Jay Wagner