TSA, Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles partner to encourage Vermonters to get their REAL ID licenses sooner rather than later

Local Press Release
Friday, December 6, 2019

BURLINGTON, Vt. — As the year winds down, it is the perfect time for Vermonters to visit their local Department of Motor Vehicles to get their REAL ID-compliant Vermont driver’s license. 

Vermont residents who want to board an airplane will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, an enhanced driver’s license (EDL) or another form of acceptable identification to board a flight or enter a secure federal facility or military base starting October 2020. Vermont’s REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards have a star in the upper right corner to indicate that it meets federal regulations that establish minimum security standards. The enhanced driver’s licenses have a U.S. flag in addition to the star.

“The upgraded REAL IDs will be required starting October 1, 2020 and with so many people focused on getting holiday gifts at this time of year, it makes the perfect holiday gift to get yourself,” said Bruce McDonald, the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Security Director for Vermont. “You don’t want to wait until the last minute to get a REAL ID when it’s crunch time.”

Vermonters have the option to upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant document if their license does not currently have the star or to stick with an older standard driver’s license. Compliance is completely optional. Those who do not feel they need a REAL ID are not required to obtain one. 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, and have the words “Not for Federal Identification” or “Not for REAL ID purposes” printed at the top. With that in mind, it is highly recommended that Vermonters who plan to travel upgrade from a standard driver’s license to a REAL ID-compliant license or enhanced license before next year’s deadline. The enhanced driver’s license costs an additional $30 and is acceptable for border-crossing travel to enter the U.S. by land and sea. It is also REAL ID-compliant, however not every Vermont REAL ID card is also an enhanced driver’s license. Visit the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles web page to review the different types of licenses and IDs.

“Vermont started this process early, and 92 percent of credentials in our state already are REAL ID-compliant,” said Wanda Minoli, Vermont’s Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner. Vermont began to offer its residents the option to become REAL-ID compliant on January 1, 2014.

To get the REAL ID star on a driver’s license, individuals will need to visit one of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles locations in person and bring certain documents to prove U.S. citizenship and Vermont residency. Required documents include one proof of identity, one proof of legal presence, two proofs of Vermont 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 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 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 domestic 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.

For more information and details about how to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card in Vermont, visit the state’s REAL ID information page.  

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