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The Real ID Act
Everything you need to know

What does the REAL ID Act mean? Discover State by State Requirements and everything you need to know about how the REAL ID act will impact your travel plans.

The REAL ID Act: What is it?

The REAL ID law was passed by Congress in 2005. The act was formulated in the wake of September 11, based on recommendations by the 9/11 commission. The aim is to increase national safety and prevent identity theft by establishing minimum standards for the issuance of identification cards and driver’s licenses.

In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a phased enforcement plan; since then, the act has slowly been rolled out, with different states at different stages of implementation and many temporary extensions granted.

A press release in 2018 revealed that 37 states and territories were determined compliant by the DHS. This meant 19 states/territories were yet to comply, including California, New Jersey, and Illinois, home to some of the largest U.S. airports.

However, the regulations established October the 1st 2020 as the deadline for enforcement, and the DHS says that it is committed to this date, and is therefore unlikely to grant any further extensions.

What does REAL ID mean for my travel plans?

From October the 1st 2020, to access to federal facilities — including aircraft — every state and territory resident will be required to present REAL ID compliant license/ID. From this date, individuals without valid REAL ID, or other acceptable form of ID, will not be permitted to enter TSA checkpoints, and will not be allowed to fly.

Other acceptable forms of ID, such as a valid passport, will still be accepted as an alternative form of identification. You can find a full list of acceptable forms of ID for domestic travel in our FAQ's below.

It is important to note that this only applies to domestic travel within the United States. For US residents travelling internaionally, a valid passport will still continue to be required.

The bottom line: travellers should get prepared. The Transportation Security Administration has enforced the message that travellers should get their paperwork in now—2020 is coming sooner than you think!

How to get REAL ID?

States will not send out new REAL ID compliant licenses automatically. You must make an appointment and physically go to a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to register for a new card. All states currently issue compliant ID’s. However, you can choose not to upgrade your license.

What does compliant ID look like?

In most states, ID can be identified as compliant if it has a gold or black star on the front. This is true for all states, except Hawaii, Ohio, Tennessee, and Utah. The best way to check is if you card says “Federal Limits Apply” or “Not for Federal Identification” then you know that it is not compliant.

State by State: A Guide

To check whether your State is compliant, take a look at our table below.

What If my State has received an extension?

If your State has received a temporary extension, you can still use your state-issued ID at airports through to the dates outlined in the table below.

It is unlikely extensions will be granted beyond October 2019.

State REAL ID Status State REAL ID Status
Alabama Compliant Montana Compliant
Alaska Compliant Nebraska Compliant
Arizona Compliant Nevada Compliant
Arkansas Compliant New Hampshire Compliant
California Compliant New Jersey Extension through October 10, 2019
Colorado Compliant New Mexico Compliant
Connecticut Compliant New York Compliant
Delaware Compliant North Carolina Compliant
Florida Compliant North Dakota Compliant
Georgia Compliant Ohio Compliant
Hawaii Compliant Oklahoma Extension through October 10, 2019
Idaho Compliant Oregon Extension through October 10, 2019
Illinois Compliant Pennsylvania Compliant
Indiana Compliant Rhone Island Compliant
Iowa Compliant South Carolina Compliant
Kansas Compliant South Dakota Compliant
Kentucky Compliant Tennessee Compliant
Louisiana Compliant Texas Compliant
Maine Extension through October 10, 2019 Utah Compliant
Maryland Compliant Vermont Compliant
Massachusetts Compliant Virginia Compliant
Michigan Compliant Washington Compliant
Minnesota Compliant West Virginia Compliant
Mississippi Compliant Wisconsin Compliant
Missouri Compliant Wyoming Compliant


Do I have to have a REAL ID compliant license?

You can choose not to upgrade your licence. However, in order to board a flight, you will need an alternative TSA-approved form of identification. Passports and Passport cards are the most common alternative form, however, the TSA currently accepts all these other forms of identity document: DHS trusted traveller cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST), Department of Defence ID, permanent resident card, or federally recognised tribal-issued photo ID.

Do children under 18 need identification?

Children under 18 are not required by the TSA to provide identification when travelling with an adult companion within the United States. Only the companion will need compliant identification. Some airlines may request to see proof of a child’s age, such as a birth certificate or passport.

When will I need to change how I travel domestically?

Since January the 22nd, 2018, travellers who do not have a license from a compliant state or a state that has been granted an extension are asked to provide alternate acceptable identification.

From October 1st, 2020, every state and territory resident will be required to present a REAL ID compliant license/ID, or another acceptable form of identification, for access to commercial aircraft.

How can some states still be non-compliant, isn't REAL ID the law?

REAL ID is a mandate on Federal agencies, and restricts the circumstances under which they may accept state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards for official purposes. Participation by states is voluntary. However, Federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver's licenses or ID cards from non-compliant states for official purposes, including boarding commercial aircraft.