Getting Real about Real ID Requirements: What You Need to Do (and by When)
By now, you’ve seen the signs as you pass through airport security. Something’s changing regarding the identification you need to present when you travel in the U.S. What exactly are the Real ID requirements you’ve been hearing about? Will the changes impact you? When do they take effect?
We’ve got you covered. Read on for answers to common questions about the Real ID Act and what you need to do, if anything, before October 2020.
Haven’t we been talking about Real ID for a while?
Yes! The Real ID Act was passed by Congress back in 2005 as part of enhanced security requirements following 9/11. The Act mandates a set of standard security requirements for driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by the states.
Over the years, these requirements have been gradually phased in. Some of the changes are process-related, such as additional residency and Social Security number verification when you visit the DMV. Others are technology-related, with states having to upgrade how licenses are designed and produced so that they’re much more difficult to forge.
The confusion comes into play because the states have taken different paths to compliance, and the deadline has been extended a few times over the years. But, as of right now, the deadline is October 1, 2020. As of that date, all states must be in compliance with the Real ID requirements.
The good news? 47 out of 50 states are now fully compliant, with the remaining three (New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Oregon) on track to comply before October. The bad news? Seventy-three percent of IDs in use aren’t yet compliant, and more than half of Americans don’t know if they need a Real ID.
So, do I have to have a Real ID by October 1, 2020?
Your driver’s license or state-issued ID card only needs to comply with the Real ID requirements if you use that ID when accessing federal facilities, including airports. At this time, Real IDs are not required for other situations where you may present your driver’s license or ID, such as when driving or voting.
So, if you use your driver’s license as your ID when boarding a domestic flight, you need to have a Real ID-compliant version before October 1, 2020. As of that date, you’ll also need a Real ID if you visit a military base (and you don’t have a military-issued ID) or other secure federal facilities.
In lieu of a Real ID, you can opt to use your passport (or other current TSA-approved alternative forms of ID) as your identification when boarding domestic flights.
Who doesn’t need a Real ID?
Here’s the bottom line. You do not need a Real ID if you’re under 18. You also don’t need one if you plan to use your passport as identification when flying domestically, and you only need your license for identification purposes outside of federal facilities.
How do I know if I have a Real ID?
States have been issuing Real IDs for a while, with people upgrading as part of the ongoing renewal process. Chances are, you have one! However, they’re typically not issued automatically. To get one, you must present proof of identity (such as a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, Social Security card, and proof of residency) when you visit the DMV.
Most Real IDs have a black or gold star in the upper right corner of the license. But, some states – including Hawaii and Ohio – didn’t include stars on their Real ID-compliant licenses. As a second check, look for verbiage like “Federal limits apply” or “Not for Federal Identification.” If you see a statement like this, your ID does not meet Real ID requirements.
If you have questions not answered here, check out this link to Real ID Frequently Asked Questions on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website.
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Waves to you and smooth sailings ahead!