Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Is Your ID Real?

We’re not accusing you of using counterfeit identification. But by May 7, 2025, if you are a US citizen, you may need to have a REAL ID.  

What is a REAL ID?

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which set new standards at the federal level for sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. These standards are minimum security standards recommended by the 9/11 Commission. REAL IDs will be required to access certain federal facilities, enter nuclear power plants, and (affecting many of us) passing the TSA screening to board federally regulated commercial aircraft within the US. The REAL ID Act is being enforced by the Department of Homeland Security.

Why do I need a REAL ID if I already have a driver’s license or identification card?

While there are acceptable alternatives to REAL IDs, a non-compliant driver’s license is not acceptable where REAL IDs are required.

A valid passport is considered a valid alternative to a REAL ID. You can use either a passport or a non-compliant driver’s license to travel domestically.

You will not need a REAL ID to enter some federal facilities where it is not required (such as the public areas of the Smithsonian Museum). 

How do I apply for a REAL ID?

Requirements vary from state to state, but usually you will need to provide documents that show:

• your full legal name

• your date of birth

• your Social Security Number

• your principal residence address (2 proofs required)

• your lawful status

Your state may have set additional requirements. You can find out your state’s requirements here:

You may already have a REAL ID. 

Does your state-issued driver license or identification card have a gold or black star at the top right like the ones in these pictures? Those ID cards will be accepted as REAL ID-compliant.

Driver's License w Star Logo

Enhanced Driver’s Licenses from the states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington are also accepted as REAL ID-Compliant, even if they do not have the star logo.


Where can I get more information about REAL ID?

The official Homeland Security webpage about REAL ID is here:

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