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Does Your Driver’s License Have a Star? Get Your REAL ID Now So You Can Fly in 2020

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Real ID Driver's License

Planning to travel by plane? Get ready for this new requirement.

Beginning October 1, 2020, every air traveler (ages 18 and older) will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. Without an approved form of identification, you may not be allowed to pass through airport security or board your flight.

This new requirement is a result of the REAL ID Act, which Congress passed in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission determined that it was too easy for people to obtain a driver’s license. To close this security loophole, air travelers are now required to obtain REAL IDs by presenting a birth certificate or green card, a Social Security card, and two documents that show proof of address.

Real ID requirements

Do you have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license?

It’s estimated that 3 out of 4 Americans currently do not have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. To complicate matters, some Americans don’t even know whether their driver’s license is REAL ID compliant. Each state has been complying with the REAL ID Act at its own pace, making the process inconsistent from one state to the next and rather confusing.

Don’t assume that your driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant.

If you’re planning to fly on or after October 1 of next year, don’t assume that your driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant, even if you’ve recently renewed it. If your ID is compliant, it will have a star in the upper right-hand corner of the card. If you aren’t 100% sure whether your license is REAL ID-compliant, the TSA urges you to check with your state driver’s license agency.

REALID example

If you do need a REAL ID, you should begin the process of obtaining one now to avoid the inevitable rush that will likely occur as the deadline approaches. There are an estimated 182 million Americans who are still without this form of ID, so anyone waiting until the last minute will run the risk of getting caught up in a massive backlog of requests.

To begin the process, contact your state driver’s license agency. At this time, there is no way to complete the process online. You will need to go in person to present documentation in order to get your REAL ID.

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Join The Discussion

Comments 50

  1. ToriSC

    Your information is not entirely correct. For those of us living in some of the border states, there is the ability to obtain what is called an Enhanced Drivers License. These are issued in conjunction with the Federal government and serve as a type of cross border identification with Canada and Mexico. These do not necessarily have the Star on them but they do qualify as the proper drivers license identification for air travel. Please update your post to say either an Enhanced License OR one with a star so people with them don’t make an unnecessary trip to the dmv. The Enhanced ones say so across the front (NYS it’s dead center on the top)

    • Lisa

      Yes same for me!

    • Maria

      Yes, thank you for addressing this. In our state, we have enhanced licenses without the star. My husband was already harassed by TSA (before this law is even in effect) because of the misinformation regarding this.

    • Jessica (Hip' Sidekick)

      Hi, ToriSC! The post mentions enhanced driver’s licenses as an acceptable form of ID in the first paragraph – hope this helps!

    • Brittney6374

      Minnesota is also requiring proof of name change such as marriage license.

    • Megs

      Yep we are in OK as well, not sure what to do…

    • Gisette

      I’m up to date so the government can look away at my records 😉

  2. Sara

    I think it is ridiculous that they are giving people only a little over a year to do get this license. I renewed my license about a year ago and now have to do it again, thus losing two years of license period that I paid for. They should have been offering this option at least a year ago, or credit people who aren’t getting the advantage of the full time of the license they paid for, not to mention of the cost of time to actually get one of these.

    FWIW, if you don’t have this, you can still travel with your passport.

    • Mic

      Most states have had a real ID as an option for years now. Whether or not everyone was aware of it is another story.

    • Whitney

      In Illinios they are only making you pay the additional charge if you already have a valid ID (It’s $5). So your state may be compensating for that too..

    • Jennifer Freier

      Michigan has been offering this for a long time

  3. Whitney Felker

    I have also heard that a passport card will work too!

    • Alana

      My state has just started offering it. If your license/ID is current, they will add the remaining years you have paid for to your real ID so you will not lose what you have paid for. Check about that in your state. My license expires after real ID goes into effect, so that was something I was looking into because I don’t want to lose out on what I’ve paid for either.

  4. Tracy

    You may want to check if your state requires a marriage certificate to prove the name change from your birth certificate. They are requiring this in Kentucky.

    • Nikki

      Have you been able to obtain one in KY? I’m in KY and our county has yet to even offer them!

      • tracy

        Not yet. I live in one of the two counties which are issuing the travel license but there was a 2 hour wait as the computer system kept crashing. Also, I didn’t have my marriage certificate with me. It was a mess.

  5. crystal stearns

    My state, Oklahoma, has yet to approve this. So it is yet not available to us.
    Not for sure what we will do in 2020

  6. Tiff

    I have passport so there is no need per TSA.

    • Lisa

      That’s what I was thinking. If you have an updated passport it’s ok. CT started the program awhile ago (2011-2012). My license issued in 2013 has the star.

  7. Hails

    Also- you will need a Star card to enter any federal agencies/properties. Doesn’t just effect flying.

  8. Lauren

    You do not need this real ID until OCTOBER 2020

  9. jos

    Please look at your local dps online to see documents that are required. Time is precious and you don’t wanna waste it in dps for nothing.

  10. tracy

    If you are in NH you also need a marriage certificate if your last name is different than the one one your birth certificate.

  11. kevashell

    PLEASE do your research on the REAL ID’s . For those of us who have exemptions, the government is linking your vaccine records with the REAL ID’s. If they do not feel you are UTD on your vaccines, you will not be able to fly. This is happening! Do not get the real ID unless you have thoroughly researched it. IMO This info should have been clearly given above.

    • a

      Sounds like a conspiracy theory

    • Rally

      I cannot see how this is possible. The government does not have anyone’s vaccine records unless you’ve given it to them. There are no vaccine record requirements for states to issue REAL ID’s.

      • Chrystal

        In GA they have a vaccination registry that houses all vaccination records. GA is not the only state either. All health departments and doctors can access the records. There are lots of states that are cracking down in our freedom of choice when it comes to our health and bodies. As far as linking our ID to our records it’s not that far fetched. Think about how much information is attached to your ssn or dL number versus when your parents or grandparents were alive.

        • JD

          I respect your right to choose. I will share some personal stories from the time vaccinations were not available from my life and those of my grandparents and parents life. My mother caught the measles in first grade. She brought the measles home to her baby sister and the whole family watched through the night until her sister died. On mom’s deathbed she talked of how she had longed for her baby sister, how guilty she felt and how she hoped for forgiveness from God and her baby sister. In my small rural community I went to school with a polio survivor who wore a metal leg brace, a child with deafness from measles, and a child with severe brain damage from high fevers with measles. My mom had shingles that resulted in severe and permanent nerve damage. I missed weeks of school after lying like a limp rag after every supposed easy childhood disease. I’m currently on a waiting list for the shingles vaccine because I wouldn’t wish shingles on my worst enemy. Again I respect your opinion and your right to choose. Just wanted to say what the old days were like.

          • Margaret Sheehy

            You had it rough. Nobody I grew up with had any serious thing happen to them with any of these childhood diseases. Know lots of kids suffering the effects of the current vaccine schedule, though. There can be too much of even a good thing.

      • Maria

        Fantastic!! Anything to keep VPD’s from spreading sounds like a great plan. I hope it’s true.

        • Margaret Sheehy

          Kinda hard when you could be vaccinated against whooping cough, for instance, yet be exposed and spread it to others without knowing it because you will be asymptomatic. At least you would know someone unvaccinated was I’ll. People are so ill informed on this subject, its comical.

    • Anne

      Please keep your anti vax propaganda away from the deals and discount blogs. My son got horribly sick because a child had an anti vax mother and brought a sickness into school.

      • Amber

        What did he end up getting? Chickenpox? Measles? Mumps? Was he not vaccinated against those? How did you know which child he contracted the disease from? How did you learn their vaccine status? Genuinely curious, not being snarky.

      • Jamie

        Wasnt your child vaccinated???

    • shop4mybabies


      • 1withthelord

        You are absolutely incorrect! Great job doing your research and great job name calling. My state and others absolutely keep records! Yes they do! Get off your high horse and research before you start name calling. This isn’t propaganda this is facts!

    • Amber

      This is interesting. Approximately 60% of the adult population is considered to be unvaccinated per the CDC so that would be a lot of lost income for airlines if this is true.

  12. juma

    Maryland requires the star /Real ID and I just got my notice from MDOT and MVA. It outlines exactly what documents are needed to renew ( I’m up for renewal in the spring 2020). They give their website info so you can review the documents and it will let you know what’s acceptable. We also have the option to schedule/ make an appointment online, so when you get to the MVA you just check in. I have heard that making the appointment online definitely decrease your time visit at the MVA.

  13. Gisette

    Illinois resident here. Hubby and I spent over 2 hours getting our Real IDs. They issued us a paper license and our permanent ID came in the mail about a week. Don’t wait till the last minute folks. Side note 📝 I did have a name change and had to show our marriage certificate.

  14. No

    In NY the marriage license must be issued by the state, I was told they do not recognize church marriage licenses. Also the license is prorated for ones that have been recently renewed. Mine was renewed last June so it is at a discounted rate.

  15. Tawana

    You can use your passport instead of Read ID to fly also. I’m not purchasing another ID until mine expires. I wiill use my passport starting in Oct 2020.

  16. JD

    This is a federal requirement brought about by 9/11 that the states have known about for years. My state of Illinois has had exception after exception year after year to postpone the requirements and is just getting its act together. As others have noted if you have a valid passport you are just fine but if not don’t wait until the last minute. Go to your state’s website and start gathering the documents you need. I live in Illinois and will be ordering my marriage license from Ohio. Once you have all the documents from different categories the state sends it off to the feds. You get a temp license and wait until the feds verify your identity. It is possible that some states will still get a dispensation past 2020 but who knows.

  17. Mindy

    My husband and I are not purchasing another ID until ours expires. We’ll just use our military/military dependent IDs.

  18. shop4mybabies


    • shop4mybabies

      oops this was in response to vaccine nuttiness not the real ID:)
      Washington state is called enhanced ID

      • 1withthelord

        Great job name calling!

        • shop4mybabies

          where did i call a name? i said vaccine nuttiness…i never said you were a nut…every state keeps vaccine records they are not linking your vaccine records to your ability to get an enhanced ID or to get on domestic flights, foreign flights to many countries have always required vaccines depending on said country. Just like when you come back from certain countries your doctor says “have you been to this country in the last 14 days”. My daughters father is a commercial airline pilot, my daughter flies all over this world. I know what vaccine information is required for flying and the answer for domestic flights is ZERO. Spreading falsehoods are dangerous. What you said is simply false. I never called you a name.

  19. sharon r klimuck

    In Arizona you can make an appointment with the DMV. I did and was in and out in 10 minutes. Needed to renew driver’s license before 65th birthday, so got it all done that day. Quick & easy…

  20. Sharon

    I probably won’t be getting this as the only time I ever hope or plan to fly is if I sprout wings!

    • JD

      You made me smile!!! I’ve always hoped to spot an angel so just maybe!

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