You Have Less Than a Year to Get a REAL ID to Fly

How to get an updated license before the October 2020 deadline

Airport security

Planning a big vacation a year from now? Hopefully you’ve made plans to get your REAL ID.

That’s not unnecessary emphasis. Starting on October 1, 2020, every traveler 18 years or older will need a “REAL ID-compliant driver’s license” (or alternative form of ID, like a passport), which is a license marked with a star located in the card’s upper portion. 

According to a study by the U.S. Travel Association, only 43 percent of Americans are aware of the October deadline. An estimated 78,500 travelers could be turned away on the first day of enforcement.

This new travel requirement dates back to a law regarding identification security standards passed by Congress back in 2005 and suggested by the 9/11 Commission. Essentially, the REAL ID Act prevents federal agencies (like the TSA) from accepting licenses and ID from states that don’t meet strict new requirements. A phased enforcement of this act began in 2013. 

Getting a new license is only a mild hassle: You’ll have to visit your local DMV and present documentation to verify your identity — that could include birth certificate, green card, Social Security card and two documents that show your address. Currently 47 of the 50 states are issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and all of them will be doing so at some point this year, although only 27 percent of Americans have been issued one

Most state signify a REAL ID-compliant license with a star (Image via Homeland Security)

Right now, the government is urging people to get the new license sooner than later (if the state is issuing compliant REAL IDs) to avoid a deluge of requests next summer.


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