USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

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

Local Press Release
Monday, April 22, 2019

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

Washington, D.C. residents who want to board an airplane will soon need a star on their driver’s license, indicating that it is a REAL ID 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 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 license or get a Limited Purpose driver’s license, which cannot be used as a federal identification. Washington 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 license if they have outstanding debts to the District or unpaid fines for moving traffic violations in other jurisdictions.

To get the REAL ID with the star, individuals will need to appear at their local Washington, D.C. DMV in person and bring certain documents to prove U.S. citizenship and Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C. government has an extensive FAQs web page about obtaining a REAL ID 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 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.

Travelers will begin seeing new signs at airports nationwide in the coming weeks 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 Transportation Security Administration airport checkpoints and will not be allowed to fly.

For more information and details about how to obtain a REAL ID 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.

###