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Transportation Security Administration

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

Local Press Release
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

PHILADELPHIA — Do you have a star? Is it a REAL ID star in a gold circle?

Pennsylvanians 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. Pennsylvania’s REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards have a small star in a gold circle in the upper right corner to indicate that it meets new federal regulations that establish minimum security standards.

The upgraded REAL IDs will be required starting October 1, 2020.

Pennsylvania residents have the option to upgrade to a REAL ID or stick with a standard driver’s license when they get a new license at a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) office. However, a standard credential—without the star—will not be valid to board a flight or to access secure federal facilities, including military bases and some federal offices.

Unsure if a REAL ID is right for you? PennDOT has an online tool that will help determine if a real ID is what you need.  

To get the REAL ID star, individuals will need to visit their local PennDOT office in person and bring certain documents to prove U.S. citizenship and Pennsylvania residency. Required documents include one proof of identity, one proof of legal presence, two proofs of Pennsylvania 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. If you received your first Pennsylvania driver’s license, learner’s permit, or photo ID card after September 1, 2003, PennDOT may already have your REAL ID documentation on file. To find out if your required REAL ID documents are on file with PennDOT, apply for REAL ID pre-verification online. If PennDOT confirms that your documents are on file, you can order your REAL ID online without a need to visit a driver’s license center.

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's 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 the TSA checkpoint 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 Pennsylvania, visit the PennDOT website.

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

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