How to prepare for Real ID

Real ID

Effective October 1, 2020, if you are 18 years or older, live in the United States and plan to use your driver’s license or state ID to travel by air, you will need a REAL ID to pass airport security checkpoints and/or be permitted on the airplane. Read on to learn more:

Q: What is a REAL ID and how did this come to be?
Starting October 1, 2020, every U.S. state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID compliant license/ID, or another acceptable form of identification, for the purposes of boarding commercial aircraft.

The card must be REAL ID compliant unless the resident is using an alternative acceptable document, such as a passport.

This comes as part of the REAL ID Act that was passed by congress in 2005, which enacted the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the Federal Government set stronger standards for the issuance of sources of identification.

NOTE: Children under 18 will not be required to provide REAL ID when traveling with a companion within the United States. However, their companion will need acceptable identification.

Q: Do I need a passport if I have a REAL ID?
If you are traveling internationally you will still need your passport to travel. 

If you are traveling domestically, you will only need one valid form of identification – either your REAL ID OR another acceptable alternative such as a passport, not both.

REAL ID cards cannot be used for international seas cruise travel or for border crossings into Canada or Mexico.


Q: How do I know if my license or identification card is REAL ID compliant?
REAL ID-compliant cards will have one of the following markings on the upper top portion of the card.  If the card does not have one of these markings, it is not REAL ID-compliant and won’t be accepted as proof of identity.



Q: I realize now that my identification is not REAL ID compliant. How do I get a REAL ID?
REAL ID’s can be obtained at your state’s driver’s licensing agency. State requirements can vary, so it’s best to check your state’s driver’s licensing agency website to find out exactly what documentation is required to obtain a REAL ID, prior to visiting the agency in person. 

However, at a minimum, you must provide documentation showing: 

1) Full Legal Name
2) Date of Birth
3) Social Security Number
4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence
5) Lawful Status

NOTE: Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) issued by Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-compliant cards and will also be accepted for official REAL ID purposes.  Most EDLs do not contain the star marking and this is acceptable. If you are unsure whether your EDL qualifies as a REAL ID, or for more information on EDLs, please go to:

Q: If I don’t have a driver’s license, is a passport my only other option?
No. TSA accepts several other forms of identity documents. For more information on acceptable forms of identification for boarding aircraft, please visit TSA’s website at

All information in this document was provided by the Department of Homeland Security’s website. For further details and to answers to other frequently asked questions, visit:

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