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The REAL ID Enforcement Deadline Has Been Extended to October 2021

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Real ID Driver's License

Does your driver’s license have a star yet? ⭐️

Due to circumstances resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic and the national emergency declaration, you now have another year to get it done. The Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline from October 1, 2020 to October 1, 2021.

Beginning October 1, 2021, 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.

piece of paper on wall with information about license

To some, this may be old news since Congress passed the REAL ID Act back in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission determined that it was too easy for people to obtain a driver’s license. So to close this security loophole, air travelers are now required to obtain REAL IDs.

In order to obtain your Real ID, you’ll need to present your birth certificate or green card, Social Security card, two documents that show your proof of address, and proof of name change (if applicable).

NOTE: Because states across the country are temporarily closed or restricting access to DMVs due to COVID-19, you’ll only be able to follow the steps below once they have opened back up to the public.

Here are the steps you should follow:


1. Check if your current ID is Real ID-compliant.

various colors of yellow and black stars on which background

If your ID is compliant, it will have one of the following symbols, as shown above, 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.

It’s estimated that 3 out of 4 Americans currently do not have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. 

Note that some states vary:

photo of an ohio real id

  • Legacy Ohio driver’s licenses have a gold star marking on the card, however, REAL ID-compliant Ohio driver’s licenses have a black cut-out star. If you are not sure whether your card is compliant, contact the Ohio driver’s license issuing agency.

About enhanced driver’s licenses:

  • Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue REAL ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses (EDL’s), both of which are acceptable.
  • Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only.
  • State-issued EDL’s are marked with a flag. These documents will be accepted at the airport security checkpoint when the REAL ID enforcement goes into effect.

2. If you don’t see the star, you’ll need a Real ID. 

picture of real id

You can visit your state driver’s license agency website to learn how to apply for your Real ID.


3. Allow yourself plenty of time. 

people sitting in chairs at the dmv at desks

There is no way to complete the process online so you will need to go in person to present documentation in order to get your REAL ID. DMV’s across the country are expected to see major spikes in wait times due to this new regulation and some locations in select states are even requiring appointments to help streamline this process.

NOTE: Because states across the country are temporarily closed or restricting access to DMVs due to COVID-19, you’ll only be able to follow the steps below once they have opened back up to the public.


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

picture of a jetblue airplane outside

If you’re planning to fly on or after October 1st, don’t assume that your driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant, even if you’ve recently renewed it. This could cause major problems in your future travels – hindsight is 20/20 so make sure to get ahead of the game now.


5. Be prepared to pay fees. 

Woman filling out a check with a pen in her checking book

While every state is going to be different from the fees that they charge, you’re likely going to be paying for two fees when you get your Real ID:

      1. One time fee for upgrading to a Real ID ($60.50 in my state)
      2. Fee for a 4 year extension for your license valid date. ($30.50 in my state)

If you have a current driver’s license in good standing, the good news is that you’ll get an extension for the date that your license is valid until when you upgrade to the Real ID. This means that if you still have two years left on your current license, it will be added to the regular 4 years that the Real ID is valid for – making your Real ID valid for a total of 6 years right off the bat!

Of course, everyone will be different, but just know that you aren’t losing years that you once paid for when you got your old license.

All fees are typically required to be paid by check or money order, but please check with your local DMV before making a trip to get your Real ID.


Go here for the latest Coronavirus updates, store closures, & more.

Join The Discussion

Comments 10

  1. Elizabeth

    Tip: if you’re a women divorced or getting a divorce, go back to your maiden name. Then you don’t have to show your marriage certificate or divorce decree.

    • Cheryl72

      I didn’t know that, thanks!

    • Tammy R

      If what your saying is true how will you prove that is your Birth certificate if currently using your married name without showing name connections? I looked into this it states you need to bring all documents linking names.

      • Megan Hibbit

        A real ID is for tracking purposes only so they can track you. All you need is a passport and get a US passport and you can use that to get on the plane. Keep your regular drivers license. And please everyone should get the Redemption Manual” and read it thoroughly you can download it online. Remember all government requests are only request. You don’t even need a drivers license to drive. The Constitution states we have a right to drive. Look it up. For god sake’s everyone you have to start thinking and stop letting the government think for you. Get the redemption manual and read it. And then decide if you want to get a real ID

    • Bunny919

      And if you have kept your married name and have been married more than once be prepared to obtain and bring ALL marriage and divorce papers.

      Also, if you got married overseas they can “not like” you marriage cert on its own giving you more work to do.

  2. Gscribble

    Awesome! I don’t have the new real id yet and have plans for a vacation in October (as long as it’s safe to travel by then)

  3. ammber

    Thumbs up for the NV ID :)! Love our state driver licenses here 🙂 my poor husband has to go back for his real ID I paid the extra money back in ‘14 to get it over with. But I’m glad they extended the deadline with everything going on. I’m hoping the NV DMV is not too crowded once things die down 😖😖😖

  4. Sheri

    Is it overruled if you show a US passport?

    • ana

      If you have your passport you don’t need this. I’m not doing it. My license expires in April and our state is the last to do real id so I would have to turn around in oct and go get a new license.

  5. William R STEELE III

    Can I use my passport to travel by air instead of an enhanced license ?

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