DC residents will need a REAL ID to board an airplane starting October 2020

REAL ID deadline is just one year away
Local Press Release
Monday, September 30, 2019

WASHINGTON —  The flag of the District of Columbia has three starts on it, but DC’s REAL ID compliant driver’s license only needs one star to indicate it is the REAL deal. 

DC residents who want to board an airplane will soon need a star on their driver’s license, indicating that it is a REAL ID-compliant credential or they will need another form of approved identification to board their flight or enter a secure federal facility. The District’s REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards have a small star in the upper right corner to indicate that it meets federal regulations that establish minimum security standards.

The upgraded REAL IDs will be required starting October 1, 2020, for federal identification purposes.

District of Columbia residents have the option to upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant license or get a Limited Purpose driver’s license, which cannot be used as a federal identification. District residents can get a new license at a local District Department of Motor Vehicles office. The District of Columbia DMV will not permit individuals to get a DC DMV REAL ID-compliant license if they have outstanding debts to the District or unpaid fines for moving traffic violations in other jurisdictions.

To get the REAL ID-compliant license with the star, individuals will need to appear at their local District DMV in person and bring certain documents to prove U.S. citizenship and District residency. Required documents include one proof of identity, one proof of legal presence, two proofs of District residency, one proof of your social security number (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. The DC government has an extensive FAQs web page about obtaining a REAL ID-compliant license in the District. 

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. REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and identification cards. The improvements are intended to inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.

TSA has posted 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. 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. TSA officers will be providing verbal advisements to passengers to remind them about REAL ID.

For more information and details about how to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card in the District of Columbia, visit the District’s Department of Motor Vehicles web site.

TSA also has a one-minute video that provides information about flying with a REAL ID-compliant license.