I’m sorry to say that a trip to the DMV might be in your future. If you haven’t heard of REAL IDs or you haven’t gotten one yet, now is the time. In 2005 the REAL ID Act was passed by Congress on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission that the federal government should, “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver licenses,” according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Since then, states have been updating the security on identification cards and driver licenses, and last year new restrictions were passed regarding limitations on what you can do with your traditional driver license or ID.
Why is this Relevant Now?
In 2018 the government cracked down and said those who have IDs from states that are not compliant with REAL ID standards, and did not get an extension will need to show a different form of identification for domestic air travel. Most states have since become compliant and only four—Oregon, Oklahoma, Maine and New Jersey— still have an extension. Beginning October 21, 2020 anyone without a REAL ID or other acceptable form of identification will not be granted access to board domestic flights or access to certain government buildings.
Do I Need One?
If you plan to travel after October 21, 2020, then yes. As of that date, your old driver license or state-issued ID will not be accepted as adequate identification to fly domestically. Although you can still use a passport for domestic air travel, the DHS highly encourages everyone to get a REAL ID to avoid inconvenience.
How Do I Get One?
Because identification distribution programs are state-led, how you go about getting a REAL ID differs from state to state. If you have gotten your driver license or ID replaced or renewed since 2018, you probably already have a REAL ID. Check for a star in the upper portion of your card—this is the mark of a REAL ID. If you are still unsure, contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. If you haven’t been to the DMV in a while, you will most likely need to make an appointment to get a REAL ID. The process is similar to renewing your driver license (but with more documents), except you will have to take a new photo (so, maybe don’t book an appointment right after your hot yoga session.) For more information about how to obtain a REAL ID, check out the DHS website or your state’s DMV website. Don’t miss a flight because you don’t have a REAL ID!