United States federal law put into effect the Real ID Act in 2008 and then again in 2014, which makes traveling domestically with a standard driver’s license no longer possible. While residents of many states had to make the change fairly quickly, there were some states that were allowed an extension on the date to which residents had to get their Real ID in order to travel domestically (without having to use a passport). If you haven’t applied for your Real ID, you will not be able to fly domestically within the U.S. with your regular state-issued driver’s license beginning 1 October 2021. Questions? Here’s what you need to know if you have yet to get your Real ID.

*Please note, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the deadline to obtain the Real ID has been extended from 1 October 2020 to 1 October 2021.

What You Need

In order to receive a Real ID, you must present one document that shows your name and date of birth such as a birth certificate, U.S. Passport or Resident Card; one document that shows your name and social security number such as a W2, Social Security Card or a pay stub; and two forms of documents showing your home address such as a utility bill, car registration, loan statement, etc.

Where to Get It

Usually, you have to go to the DMV with your above documents and complete the application there, which will be processed at the same time and where you’ll also take a new photo. Most DMVs offer the ability to complete the application online—which will speed up the process—and more recently, you can submit proof of your identity and documents online before going into the DMV. Even if you do all of that, we highly recommend scheduling an appointment to come in, in order to avoid wait times. Note, you still have to go to the DMV to complete the process. You’ll receive your ID in the mail a few weeks later.

How Does It Look

Unlike standard state IDs or driver’s licenses, the Real ID features an added layer of security and star on the top right-hand side of the license/ ID card. Some of the added security features include the following: holographic images, embedded technology, seal, thermochromic printing and more.

Why You Need It

Even if you’re planning on traveling domestically within the U.S. with your passport, you will still need to obtain a Real ID in order to enter government-owned spaces such as military bases, courthouses, and other federal facilities.

Once you receive your Real ID, you should be able to renew it online moving forward without having to go to the DMV. For more information, visit the Department of Homeland Security official page. Do you have your Real ID?