AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – November marks six months until the deadline for U.S. travelers needing to have updated driver’s licenses or identification cards to board domestic flights and access federal facilities.
Here are a few quick facts about the REAL ID Act and its upcoming deadlines.
What is a REAL ID? What does it look like?
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the REAL ID Act was passed in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The law requires states to adopt and implement uniform standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards if they are to be accepted by the federal government. The measures were intended to reduce identity fraud and terrorism.
Many states have been issuing REAL IDs for years, meaning if you got your license, or renewed it recently, it’s likely REAL ID-compliant.
The way to know is to check the upper right-hand corner. There should be a star of some sort. It will be black or gold, a star or a cutout of a star, or a cut-out star in a bear if you live in California. These sample Texas driver’s licenses, for example, have gold circles with white insets.
If your license or ID doesn’t have a star, it is still valid and you can still use it to fly until the 2023 deadline. Without a REAL ID, you’ll need another form like a valid passport or U.S. military ID. TSA lists other forms of ID that can also be used to board a plane.
Important dates and deadlines for the REAL ID Act
May 11, 2005 – The United States Congress passed the REAL ID Act in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, requiring states to adopt uniform standards for state-issued and federally-accepted driver’s licenses and identification cards.
Early 2023 – If you don’t already have a REAL ID-compliant card, you may want to start the application process in early 2023. How soon you need to apply depends on the state you live in.
May 3, 2023 – Beginning in May 2023, only state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards compliant with the REAL ID Act will be accepted for federal government purposes, such as entering secure federal buildings, or boarding domestic flights. Non-compliant cards will only be accepted for state-related purposes after this date, such as driving (for driver’s licenses), banking, and voting.
For further information about REAL IDs, you can visit the TSA’s website, DHS’s website, or contact your local DMV.