Find out if you need a Real ID. You’ve got a year to get one

One year from Tuesday, Americans who fly will need to have a driver’s license that meets new federal security requirements, or they’ll have to produce another form of acceptable identification to get through airport checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration advised travelers not to wait until the last minute to obtain what’s known as a Real ID, an enhanced version of a standard driver’s license required by Congress in 2005, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

They’re now available in all but three states: Oregon, Oklahoma and New Jersey. All other states are compliant with the law, but air travelers should check with their state government’s motor vehicle agency to find out where they can obtain the new license.

As of Oct. 1, 2020, fliers who do not have a Real ID or an acceptable alternative form of identification, will not be able to get past any domestic airport security checkpoint.

Real ID requirements: What travelers need to know

“This is an important step in enhancing commercial aviation security, and we urge travelers to ensure they have compliant documents,” said Kevin K. McAleenan, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, under which TSA operates.

Only 27% of Americans have been issued a REAL ID, according to TSA. 

Not everyone will need a Real ID. Those who do not plan to fly after Sept. 30, 2020, can continue to use their current state-issued driver’s license until it expires. So can air travelers who have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, a military ID, a DHS Global Entry card, a permanent resident card or a passport issued by a foreign government.

Most Real ID-compliant cards are marked by a star on the upper portion of the card. 

Beginning October 1, 2020, you will need a Real ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of ID, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the U.S. (Photo: TSA)

Not all compliant licenses have the star, though. Washington, New York, Minnesota and Vermont issue enhanced licenses that TSA will accept for Real ID purposes. 

A Real ID can only be used for domestic travel. International travelers, including to Canada and Mexico, will still need a valid passport.

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