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Oct 1 Deadline Approaching: Ready for REAL ID?

Category: Travel

February 19, 2020 — This could happen to you next fall: you hand your license to airport security and she hands it back. Sorry sir, this is not REAL ID – you cannot board the plane. That’s right, starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification (such as a US Passport, US Passport Card, US military card, or a DHS Trusted Traveller Card) for domestic air travel. 

The Real ID Act of 2005 sets forth requirements for state driver licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, which are activities defined as boarding commercially operated airline flights, and entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants.

Look for the star

Before you panic, chances are you might already have REAL ID. Pull out your current driver license and look at the number. Is there a star at the end of that number? If so, not to worry, you have REAL ID. If not, better keep on reading on how to get one.

Documentation required before issuing a license or ID car

Since the U.S. has no national ID card, requirements for exactly what kinds of documents are required can vary slightly by state, but they all have the same basic requirements. In Florida, for example,

U.S. Citizens have to bring 1 of the following to the DMV:

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport
  • Original or Certified copy of a birth certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Certificate of Naturalization issued by DHS
  • Certificate of Citizenship

Non-Citizens have to bring a non-expired, valid residency card or passport.

Both Citizens and Non-Citizens will need to bring:

  • Social Security Card or proof of your social security number.
  • Two documents that show your principal residence

A passport will also work

Perhaps you don’t have a driver license, or didn’t get your REAL ID yet. Your valid passport will still get you on the plane.

Bottom line: Don’t wait. If you don’t have REAL ID yet, pull your necessary documents together and head down to the DMV. You can go online to your DMV and find out exactly what you need to bring. Things could get crowded as the Oct 1 deadline nears. Don’t get turned away at the airport next fall because you are missing the right ID.

Comments? Do you already have your REAL ID? Was it easy to get? Share your experiences in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on February 19th, 2020


  1. Thank You Thank You for reminding us and explaining it so well. During the Christmas season when I was in a mile-long line at the post office a lady was in a tizzy over Real ID and let everyone in the Post Office know about the ordeal she been through. She had just left the DMV to renew her license and she could not get a Real ID because she had been married before but never changed her drivers license name. They told her she needed her marriage certificate and to change the name on her license first then come back and apply for Real ID. She did not have a marriage certificate and so was at the post office asking for help. When it was her turn at the window I heard them tell her there was nothing they could do and tried to help, but it sounded so confusing and she had created a name problem.
    I have talked to others who have gotten Real ID with no problem-except a long wait in line, but as stated in the article you need to go to your State’s DMV website where they spell out exactly what you need, and if your name is not the same on all your documents better get that done first.

    by Darla — February 19, 2020

  2. To avoid waiting in the mile long line at the DMV, make an appointment. It has to be an express DMV office and it saves a ton of time not having to wait in line. That’s what I did and I was in and out in less than 30 minutes and the place was standing room only!

    by Rick — February 19, 2020

  3. I got my Real ID in the District of Columbia last August when most of our population is away for the summer. The lines were still long. Before I went, I called the DMV and went over the documents that I would be bringing. For most of them, they needed the original document and if I was using government correspondence, then I also had to bring the envelope it came in and the postmark could be no older than 60 days.

    When I arrived at the DMV I waited in a line just to have my documents reviewed–that took maybe 20 minutes, then once approved, I was directed to wait in a seated area for 90 more minutes. After the wait, my driver’s license was renewed and I took an eye test. My documents were scanned in front of me and returned back to me. I waited for 15 more minutes, where I was given a temporary ID and told my Real ID would arrived in the USPS snailmail within two weeks—which it did.

    One thing, while waiting, I noticed is that there were no Latinos at all waiting in the long lines at the DMV and few African Americans which is very unusual in DC. It appears that The Real ID is really a national ID and I am thinking some residents will have a difficult time coming up with all the required documents. I saw several people turned away in the first phase document line.

    Since I travel, I do have a valid passport and could use that to board a plane but my driver’s license was up for renewal in September and in order to renew it–it had to be converted to a Real ID in DC. Needless to say I am glad it is all finished.

    by Jennifer — February 20, 2020

  4. I had to get certified copies of my marriage certificate to get my drivers license and real id. The DMV would not accept my out-of-state drivers license when I moved from NC to SC, even though my name is the same. Then I had to get a certified copy of my divorce in order to file for property taxes on my new home – even though the title to the home was in my name alone. Lesson learned – if you marry or divorce and you are a woman, keep certified copies of both items where you can access them. Do not let your spouse keep them. You, not your spouse, will need them.

    by nancy — February 20, 2020

  5. I know a person who poo pooed this and they just renewed their license without the Real ID documents. Said they’d never fly anyway.. It isn’t that big of a deal to comply. Never say never because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

    There are going to be a lot of surprised people in October.

    I wonder if the airlines will sell the tickets without asking the buyer if they have a Real ID?

    by Louise — February 20, 2020

  6. I just had gone through going to DMV ,taken my birth cert. and marriage license to get my “enhanced” driver license in NY. It does not have a star on it,so is this still not the “Real ID” that is required?

    by Sandyg — February 20, 2020

  7. This is on my to-do list, even though I have a valid passport, which is due to expire in 16 months. Its renewal is also on my to-do list, but not until early 2021. I’ll check my state’s requirements, but your list is helpful. Coincidentally, I’m taking care of this today. Thank you!

    by Elaine C. — February 20, 2020

  8. If we have all of the above mentioned “proof” documents – why are people being asked for MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES? Do I have to bring it with me too or is this for newlyweds? My Soc. Sec. card has my married name on it… Haven’t done it yet

    by HEF — February 20, 2020

  9. All this information you provided about getting the Real ID drivers licenses is interesting. Late last year my husband and I went to our local DMV with our current licenses and our valid passports only. We did not have to show anything relating to our SS numbers nor any additional proof of residence. It took us about 15 minutes to get our new licenses. Perhaps each state requires different levels of “proof” but here in Florida where we live it was nice and simple.

    by Toni Olsen — February 20, 2020

  10. Toni it is disheartening that FL had a different and relaxed approach to the new ID – a bit puzzling. If one has the proper documents it can go smoothly and quickly elsewhere. I went to my AAA here in CT who has a contract with the DMV and also was out in 15 minutes. However I have heard complaints from folks who didn’t go prepared.
    HEF it is my understanding that as long as one’s SS card has their current name there is no problem –
    married or divorced.

    by Janet — February 21, 2020

  11. In PA, I found ( after several trips) if a woman has changed her name through marriage, she needs to bring both her birth certificate and marriage license in addition to a PA drivers license and proof of residence. I don’t have a current passport so I’m not sure if that would have sufficed for me but my husband used that in place of his birth certificate.
    Once I had the correct documents lol the wait was about 90 minutes.

    by Staci — February 21, 2020

  12. I am very interested in these comments because I have dragged my feet on this, and thanks to TR to lite the fire. The comments here make it seem very confusing, but each state has their own website to explain what you need and you do need to look at it and get your required papers together and understand you will have to dedicate some time at the DMV.
    Because I live in Florida I was interested in Toni’s comment and when I went to FL’s website and found under FAQ it lists what you need to bring: drivers license or passport, social security card or proof of SS#, and 2 Two documents that show your principal residence, but you do need to look at the website as it does list what types of documents are accepted and they are easy enough. Marriage certificate or divorce decree are needed only if your name is different than on your primary ID (like your drivers license or passport), and and they have to be issued by the courts so there is a paper trail to prove it.

    by Pauline — February 21, 2020

  13. Not a concern for me….not planning on travelling anytime soon. Until this virus situation clears up who would want to chance it??

    by Mary11 — February 21, 2020

  14. Admin comment (from
    “The Airports Council-North America, which represents commercial airports in the United States and Canada, has asked the federal government to extend the deadline amid concerns that two-thirds of driver’s licenses held by Americans aren’t REAL ID-compliant.”

    Wow, that’s a lot of people who aren’t compliant. Good news if you have a passport – you can use it if you don’t get REAL ID in time.

    by Admin — February 24, 2020

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