HARTFORD — Do you have a star on your Connecticut driver’s license? If not, there’s still time to get your REAL ID-compliant driver’s license with that star on it. But it’s better to get it sooner, rather than later.
Connecticut residents who want to board an airplane for a domestic flight will soon need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. If their driver’s license is not REAL ID-compliant, they will need another form of approved identification, such as a passport to board their flight or enter a secure federal facility or military base. The REAL ID driver’s license and identification card have a small star in the upper right corner to indicate they meet federal regulations that establish minimum security standards.
REAL ID goes into effect starting October 1, 2020.
“REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and identification cards,” says William Csontos, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Connecticut. “The improvements are intended to inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”
Connecticut residents have the option to upgrade to a REAL ID if their license does not currently have the star or stick with an older standard driver’s license. However, a standard credential—without the star—will not be valid to board a domestic flight or to access secure federal facilities, including military bases and some federal offices. The standard Connecticut driver’s license will have the words “Not for Federal Identification” printed at the top.
“We knew it would take some time to implement REAL ID, so we were proactive and began in 2011. Now we are focusing on the 50 percent of our residents who are not yet verified by launching a statewide PSA campaign to help them understand what they need to do,” says Sibongile Magubane, Connecticut’s Commissioner for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
To get the REAL ID star, individuals will need to visit their local Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles office in person and bring certain documents to prove U.S. citizenship and Connecticut residency. This program is available at DMV offices, participating AAA locations, Milford and North Haven Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union Offices, Stamford (operated by the WorkPlace, Inc.) and West Haven City Hall. Required documents include one proof of identity (passport or U.S. birth certificate), proof of legal presence for non-U.S. citizens, two proofs of Connecticut residency, your social security card (if you’ve been issued one) and a current driver’s license if you are applying to exchange one issued by another U.S. state.
Transportation Security Administration officers who staff the ticket document checking station at airports will not allow travelers into the checkpoint without a REAL ID-compliant license or another form of acceptable ID after October 1, 2020, because of a federal law (The REAL ID Act of 2005) that mandates that a REAL ID is needed for federal purposes.
“Information about REAL ID is now on display throughout the terminal reminding our passengers about the requirements and where to obtain further information,” said Kevin A. Dillon, A.A.E., Executive Director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We are pleased to be partnering with the TSA and the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles on this important effort to ensure that our passengers have proper identification and a smooth journey through Bradley International Airport.”
Travelers will start to notice new signs at airports nationwide to remind people that REAL ID-compliant licenses or other acceptable forms of ID, such as a valid passport, federal government PIV card or U.S. military ID, will be mandatory for air travel beginning on October 1, 2020, Csontos explained. “Critically important, on October 1, 2020, individuals who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the TSA checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly,” he said.
For more information and details about how to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card in Connecticut, visit Connecticut’s FAQ page about REAL ID. Or call 860-263-5700 within the Hartford area or 800-840-8222 elsewhere from within Connecticut.
TSA also has a one-minute video that provides information about flying with a REAL ID.