REAL ID Enforcement Deadline Has Been Extended Until May 2023

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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 two more years to update your driver’s license. The Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline from October 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023. Head to their site to better understand why you need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license to fly and enter federal facilities.

Beginning May 3, 2023, 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: Now that DMVs are open with updated COVID-19 guidelines, you’ll be able to follow the steps below to obtain your REAL ID.

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 symbols 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.

The DHS states only 43% of Americans currently 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: Some states across the country have only select DMVs issuing REAL ID driver’s licenses at their facilities. Contact your local DMV to check if they are a REAL ID site before you head out with your documentation.

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 May 3rd, 2023, 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 with the fees 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 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.

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Join The Discussion

Comments 19

  1. gentledogwalker

    Thanks for this info. I had a notice when I renewed my car tags that I needed to do this right away but now I can relax. Thanks

    • Scott Maples

      you don’t need real id you have a passport, waste of time and money

      • Cdf

        Not true! You still need a REAL I’d to enter any federal buildings for example courthouse and other federal facilities including some military bases and some parks! You can’t board an airplane without one, not everyone has or needs a passport!

        • leslie d johnson

          the key word is if you have a passport already to fly

  2. Danielle

    Im so glad it’s been extended again. We just moved to a new state and have appts at the DMV Friday. We were going to get our real IDs then too, because we don’t have them yet. I called today just to confirm all the paperwork we needed to bring. (I didn’t want to get there and not have something and have to reschedule, as they are scheduling out 6 weeks.) I have my Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Current Drivers License, Marriage Certificate and previous Divorce decree. I even have all 3 of my social security cards( maiden name, 1st married name and 2nd married name.) Turns out I need my marriage license from my 1st marriage too! That marriage was from 1998 and we divorced in 2006! Don’t think I kept that marriage license, so now I have to order one and pay for it. Oh well, not gonna rush it, now that I have time!!

    • Lisa

      Wow! I didn’t have to go through that when we moved to a different state and I got mine. I’ve been married before and do have all the paperwork from that p,us my current marriage, but all they wanted was my current ID, my birth certificate, and my S.S. Number (didn’t even ask for the card)

  3. Diane

    I struggled to provide the 4 types of id for my real id license. We have lived in our current home for over 30 years and back then all utilities were in my husband’s since I was stay at home Mom with small children.

  4. Deb

    Doesn’t a passport work too?

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      It sure does, Deb!

    • Emily

      Just coming here to say if you have a passport, you do not need a real id!

      • Smellyann

        Does the passport still work if your dog has fished it out of your purse and chewed on it? Multiple times? 😏 Asking for a friend…

    • bobmapoopma

      well only if you travel over seas this for people who want travel from state to state

      • Marsha

        A passport is for out of state or a REAL ID is for state to state? Asking for sister and self. I do have my passport and birth certificate.

  5. Tricia

    It’s far from easy to get an ID for homebound people. That needs to change. I have agoraphobia and will never have a valid ID again because of how hard they make it. Hoping one day they have field agents to come to the homes of people like us. Especially if ID becomes mandatory for absentee ballots now.

  6. Tawana

    I’m happy that they extended the date. In my state they did not have the Real ID available until 2019 but I just had my license renew in 2018 and I was not going to pay another fee for the license. I do have a passport. My license expire in 2022 so I can get the RealID then.

  7. rick ives

    Will I still be able to enter the social security administration building FOR ANY APPOINTMENTS without a real id

  8. Melody

    We have the passport ID card which works
    We went with that instead of the enhanced because it’s accepted on a federal level
    Because not all states recognize the enhanced ID and it’s 35$ for 10 years

  9. Linn Soukup

    This is great article! Thank you 🙂

  10. Enedina Canez

    This is great article! Thank you 🙂

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