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The REAL ID Act: What It Means, State by State Requirements, and Updates [2023]

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Christy Rodriguez

Christy Rodriguez

Travel & Finance Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 36U.S. States Visited: 31

After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a cer...
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You may have noticed Transportation Security Administration signs posted at airport security checkpoints warning travelers about upcoming ID requirement changes. So what exactly are these changes, and what do you need to do to be ready?

We’ll break down exactly how REAL ID works — including what the REAL ID Act means for you and how you travel.

What Is the REAL ID Act?

Formulated in the wake of September 11 and passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act was passed to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”

The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and it prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards for official purposes from states that do not meet these standards.

It was aimed at thwarting airline terrorism by increasing requirements to obtain documents that grant access to domestic planes.

State agencies that issue licenses and identification cards, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, require more paperwork regarding proof of residency and Social Security numbers to obtain standard licenses under the new act.

The cards also use new technology, making them much more difficult to forge.

Due to various roadblocks and the COVID-19 pandemic, it will have taken the federal government nearly 20 years to implement the act fully — a gradual process that has been met by some confusion as each state has a different status. The original date of compliance was October 1, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline was first delayed to October 1, 2021, then to May 3, 2023, and now to May 7, 2025. All states must comply by May 7, 2025.

We know a lot of travelers are concerned that they will lose the ability to fly, drive, or vote as a result of the REAL ID Act, but this isn’t the case. You can continue to use your regular license or identification to drive and vote without obtaining a REAL ID.

The change will only impact domestic travel in the U.S. and you will either need to provide an alternate form of TSA-approved ID or obtain a REAL ID.

Bottom Line: To fly internationally, you will always need your passport.

What Does a REAL ID Look Like?

In most states, there is a gold or black star on the front of the REAL ID license that signifies compliance. If you see one of these stars, then you’re good to go.

There are 5 states — Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington — that issue enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs). These are a form of REAL ID. These EDLs allow land and sea border crossings to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont offer the EDL as an option. Washington only issues EDLs.

Hot Tip: Enhanced IDs aren’t a substitute for passports for air travel, only land or sea travel.

An easy way to know your card is not compliant is if it says “Not for Federal Identification,” “Federal Limits Apply,” or “Not for Real ID Act Purposes.”

Image Credit: Upgraded Points

What Does REAL ID Mean for Me?

Airports are considered federal facilities and this act affects your ability to enter them and board your flight.

Starting May 7, 2025, the REAL ID Act takes full effect. From this date, every state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or ID or another acceptable form of identification such as a passport or passport card to access federal facilities — including boarding commercial aircraft.

Most states and territories have already begun issuing new licenses. You will have until May 7, 2025, to obtain a REAL ID-compliant license. Just check your license to be sure.

If your ID is REAL ID-compliant, there will be a star in the top right corner. Many drivers may not realize they already have a compliant ID since some states have issued them for many years.

Bottom Line: If you are not in compliance with the REAL ID Act, you will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board your flight starting on May 7, 2025.

What the REAL ID Act Is Not

A REAL ID is NOT a substitute for a passport for international travel. This means you can’t use a REAL ID to enter Canada or Mexico by land or any international travel destination. The only exception to this is if you have an enhanced driver’s license — more on this below!

There are several other requirements that REAL ID doesn’t affect.

REAL ID requirements don’t apply to:

  • Voting or registering to vote
  • Applying for or receiving federal benefits
  • Being licensed by a state to drive or rent a car
  • Entering federal facilities that do not require identification (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings, national parks, and Social Security offices)
  • Accessing health- or life-preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics)
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigation
  • The ability to purchase alcohol, cash checks, or gamble

You can also continue to use your standard driver’s license or ID card for other U.S. travel including driving in and across state lines or riding a train.

Who Needs a REAL ID?

In most instances, obtaining a REAL ID isn’t required, but there are many benefits to obtaining a REAL ID. Here is a breakdown of some common reasons to consider getting a REAL ID and a few reasons why you might not need one.

Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Common Reasons To Obtain a REAL ID

  • You want to fly with only your state-issued ID
  • You don’t have a passport or another TSA-approved ID (listed below)
  • You need to visit a secure federal facility, such as a military base, and don’t have a military ID

Reasons You May Not Need a REAL ID

  • You are under 18 years old
  • You only need your ID for purposes of identification (ie. to vote, serve on a jury, or drive)
  • You don’t mind bringing another TSA-approved ID (like a passport) along when you fly starting on May 7, 2025

Who Can Get a REAL ID?

To qualify for a REAL ID-compliant ID or license, you must fall under one of the following categories:

  1. U.S. citizen or national
  2. U.S. lawful permanent resident or lawful temporary resident (including green card holders)
  3. Have conditional permanent resident status in the U.S. (including individuals with valid work permits, like H1B visas)
  4. Have an approved asylum application or entered under refugee status
  5. Have a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa
  6. Have a pending application for asylum
  7. Have a pending or approved temporary protected status
  8. Have an approved deferred action status (including DACA)
  9. Have a pending application for adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent or conditional resident

Specifically, for undocumented immigrants, the DHS website notes that driver’s licenses and identification cards can still be issued by the state, but not REAL IDs: “Some states currently issue noncompliant cards to undocumented individuals. Noncompliant cards must clearly state on their face that they are not acceptable for REAL ID purposes and must use a unique design or color to differentiate them from compliant cards.”

Hot Tip: Still not sure? Check to check if you are “REAL ID Ready”.

REAL ID by State

Since licenses are issued at the state level, each process is slightly different. But the good news is that all states are in compliance with the REAL ID Act. This just means that each state and territory is now able to provide REAL IDs.

In a move aimed to help more people receive their REAL IDs before the May 7, 2025, deadline, the DHS passed the REAL ID Modernization Act that allows you to submit your identification documents electronically. This includes information such as a birth certificate and passport.

Applicants will still need to bring the required documents in person so they can be compared to the electronic submissions. This means that to get a REAL ID-compliant license, you must still physically go to a DMV office.

Bottom Line: States will not send you a REAL ID-compliant license automatically if you renew your license online. While most states are issuing compliant IDs, individuals may still choose not to upgrade their licenses.

What if My State Is REAL ID-Compliant?

You will be able to use your state-issued ID at airports through May 7, 2025. After May 7, 2025, you will need a REAL ID (or another TSA-approved ID) to fly — both domestically and internationally.

Which States Require REAL ID To Fly?

All states issue REAL ID-compliant IDs, but none require a REAL ID. You can still fly as long as you have a TSA-approved form of ID. When comparing a REAL ID to a state ID, they can be the same form of identification.

Steps To Take To Get a Compliant REAL ID

If you’ve decided you’d like to get a REAL ID, you’ll definitely want to know where to go to get a REAL ID, what documents to bring, and how much the REAL ID costs.

Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Step 1: Make an appointment to visit a REAL ID at a DMV field office near you. Some offices are offering special hours or days for those trying to get a REAL ID before May 7, 2025. You can also get a REAL ID without an appointment, but this isn’t recommended as wait times at your local office can be incredibly long.

Here are the links to all of the local offices to help you get started with this process.

State by State Websites
Alabama DPSIndiana BMVNebraska DMVSouth Carolina DMV
Alaska DMVIowa DOTNevada DMVSouth Dakota DPS
Arizona DMVKansas DOVNew Hampshire DMVTennessee DMV
Arkansas DFAKentucky DMVNew Jersey MVCTexas DPS
California DMVLouisiana OMVNew Mexico MVDUtah DMV
Colorado DMVMaine BMVNew York DMVVermont DMV
Connecticut DMVMaryland MVANorth Carolina DMVVirginia DMV
Delaware DMVMassachusetts RMVNorth Dakota DOTWashington DOL
Florida HSMVMichigan SOSOhio BMVWashington, D.C. DMV
Georgia DDSMinnesota DPSOklahoma DPSWest Virginia DMV
Hawaii DOTMississippi DSBOregon DMVWisconsin DOT
Idaho TDMissouri DORPennsylvania DMVWyoming DOT
Illinois ILSOSMontana MVDRhode Island DMV

Step 2: On the day of your appointment, ensure you bring all the necessary documents (even if you have submitted documents online beforehand).

What Real ID Documents Do I Need?

  • Proof of identity, such as a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, employment authorization document, permanent resident card, or foreign passport with an approved form I-94
  • Proof of your Social Security number, such as an SSN card, W-2, or paystub with full SSN
  • At least 2 proof of residency documents, such as a rental or lease agreement, mortgage bill, utility bill or employment, medical, or school document
  • If applicable, an original or certified copy of a name change document, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree, may be required

If you have any issues or concerns with obtaining any of the documents or seeing if an item will be accepted, we suggest checking directly with your local DMV.

Step 3: Pay the fee for the license. This will vary by state but is generally less than $60. Check our graphic under “How Much Does a REAL ID Cost?” below for specific costs.

Common Problems With Obtaining a REAL ID

There are a lot of questions about what is and isn’t an appropriate document to bring along with you to obtain a REAL ID. Issues like not having a mailing address, having a name change, or having a temporary or expired license are common problems. Also, getting a REAL ID without key documents such as a birth certificate, Social Security card, or passport can be a challenge.

If you’re unsure, we always recommend reaching out to your state’s license-issuing office directly before you head to your appointment!

Some states, like California, offer a list of documents that are accepted for each category. This is a good place to start when gathering your documents. Look for notes about when copies or originals are necessary and read recommendations for alternatives if you don’t have the recommended residency documents or if you use a P.O. Box.

Can I Transfer My REAL ID Between States?

No, you can’t transfer your REAL ID between states. Unfortunately, federal requirements don’t allow for the transfer of a REAL ID license between states. Each state is required to view and image all documentation upon original issuance in that state.

This means that when you move, you will need to go in person to present the same documentation such as a U.S. birth certificate or passport, Social Security card, and 2 proofs of residence address, as well as meet all of your new state’s issuance requirements.

On a positive note, REAL ID licenses from other states can typically be used like any other out-of-state driver’s license to waive behind-the-wheel driving tests.

Is REAL ID Mandatory to Fly?

As of May 2022, an estimated 137 million Americans held REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses, U.S. passports, passport cards, military IDs, and Global Entry cards, all of which qualify as REAL ID-compliant identification. But, according to the most recent reports from the government, that is only 49% of Americans!

This means that you don’t have to upgrade your license to board your flight, but you will have to use an alternative (TSA-approved) form of ID. TSA currently accepts several other forms of identity documents:

Image Credit: Upgraded Points

As you can see, the most common alternatives to a REAL ID is a U.S. passport or a U.S. passport card.

Other less common items are DHS Trusted Traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST), permanent resident cards, Department of Defense IDs, enhanced driver’s licenses, and federally recognized tribal-issued photo IDs.

For more information on acceptable forms of identification for boarding aircraft, please see TSA’s website. However, it should be noted that if on or after May 7, 2025, you cannot provide an acceptable form of identification, you will not be permitted through the security checkpoint to board your flight.

How Much Does a REAL ID Cost?

REAL ID prices vary significantly throughout the country. Prices are set by the state, along with the process for getting a REAL ID. Below is a map with information on the cost and process in each state.

Potential State Revenue

We were interested in estimating just how much revenue states might be bringing in due to the new REAL IDs. For this, we used the cost from the above numbers and multiplied them by the estimated number of drivers in each state, according to information from the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.

This estimation is based on what we would consider the max possible revenue (if every driver in each state got a new license for the REAL ID Act). Because the new IDs are not mandatory, we understand that not everyone may get one. However, this is an approximation of revenue.

What About Minors Under 18?

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the U.S. The companion will need acceptable identification, though.

Airlines may demand proof of the child’s age, such as a birth certificate or passport, but these requirements aren’t regulated by TSA. Contact the airline for more information.

Final Thoughts

Now is the time to make sure you know the requirements to be REAL ID-compliant.

In some states, it may take a few weeks or longer to get an appointment at your local DMV. By taking steps towards compliance now, you can avoid the last-minute rush and be ready to go long before May 7, 2025.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Christy Rodriguez

After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a certified CPA.


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Rich C.

November 25, 2019

I just renewed my Oregon driver’s license and they don’t expire for 7yrs. Will I have to pay full price for this Real ID?
Thanks, Rich

Christy Rodriguez

November 25, 2019

Hi Rich, a REAL ID isn’t mandatory, however, if you choose to obtain a REAL ID, then yes – you would have to pay full price for a new license.

Hope this helps!

Joanie Pine

November 28, 2019

We have a strange scenario. We are retiring to Florida in the new year. We will be staying with friends until we buy or build a home. Our driver’s licenses will expire during that time. We will not have utility, mortgage, lease, employment proof. Will we be able to obtain a real ID driver’s license there? My husband’s father has stage IV cancer and we might need to fly to see him.

Christy Rodriguez

November 28, 2019

Hi Joanie – the REAL ID Act doesn’t go into effect until Oct. 2020. It would be best to contact your local DMV if you have any concerns, but rest assured – you will still be able to fly, even after this Oct. 2020 date, if you have one of the TSA-approved IDs we’ve listed in the article above. Hope this helps and best of luck on your move.

jo ann weber

November 29, 2019

I never fly. Can I just get a regular ID, or do I need it if I get called for jury duty to get into a courthouse?

Jarrod West

November 29, 2019

Hi Jo ann,

You should not need a REAL ID to get into a courthouse, and since you never fly, you should be fine with a standard ID.

Thanks for reading!

Debra Petersen

December 04, 2019

Ok, I’m due to have my licenses renewed in December. If I get a standard license now or by December, will I have to pay all over again in Oct the next year to get the real ID?
I would do it now, but I live in NY and have since I was 14. However, I was born in NJ and I have to order a new Birth Certificate as I can not find mine for a few years now.
I’m just wondering if I’m going to have to double pay since NY renewal is every 8 years.

Christy Rodriguez

December 04, 2019

Hi Debra. Yes, if you get your regular license renewed in December, you will have to pay again for a REAL ID whenever you are able to obtain one. Thanks for reading!


December 09, 2019

I recently obtained a new state drivers license, but did not get the enhanced ID. In the top corner it states ‘Federal Limits Apply’ which my previous ID did not. Will I still be able to fly domestically until October 2020?

Christine Krzyszton

December 09, 2019

Hi Andrew. Yes, you will be able to use your current license as ID to travel domestically until the new requirements kick in on October 1, 2020.


December 13, 2019

If a person has a standard ID and then later needs to go to a Federal building will they be allowed in? I don’t see how one can’t be allowed to go into a building ran by the gov’t that that person paid for through taxes.
Could there be a situation where a person is requested to come to an IRS office in a Federal building and the person tells the IRS “agent” nope, I can’t come to visit you because I have no Real ID. What’s the outcome? If we are given a choice then there is no way a person could be forced to get one to go to the IRS office.

Christy Rodriguez

December 13, 2019

Hi Bert, you will still be able to access the places you mentioned, such as IRS buildings. You can also still attend jury duty.

As noted on the DHS website, they state a REAL ID will be necessary to access “restricted and semi-restricted federal facilities such as military bases.” Most people won’t have a need to access these, so the main impact is for boarding commercial aircraft. Hope this helps!


December 15, 2019

I have a lifetime ID from Illinois, but I travel a lot. Do I need to get a Real ID or passport?

Christy Rodriguez

December 15, 2019

Hi Sylvania, I am not sure what a lifetime ID is. You noted that you travel, but you didn’t mention what kind. If you are simply driving, you would just need your Illinois-issued driver’s license. In terms of domestic air travel, you will need either a REAL ID, passport, or other TSA-approved form of ID (listed above in the article) starting on Oct. 1, 2020. If you travel internationally, you will always need your passport. Hope this helps!


December 15, 2019

I’m part of an address confidentiality program (ACP) and am allowed to use a PO Box for a regular license (not REAL ID or Enhanced ID) because I am a domestic violence victim.

Would I be allowed to apply for a REAL ID using the PO BOX? The application asks for proof of address. I see this being a big security issue.

Christy Rodriguez

December 15, 2019

Hi Sarah, I definitely understand your concerns. I would recommend that you contact your local license-issuing department in order to help you with this. (We’ve linked all of the states’ above.) They will definitely be able to assist you and let you know exactly how your information is used and stored. Hope this helps!


June 28, 2023

Hey Christy, no this was not a big help at all. The DMV lady told my gf, in typical fashion, “Sorry, don’t know to tell you. You don’t live in the box.” Shout out to all those awesome NY civil servants.


December 23, 2019

I have an old warrant from 1998. Can I still get a Real ID?

Christy Rodriguez

December 23, 2019

Hi Jason, you didn’t mention which state you are living in, but typically the DMV will check for existing warrants any time you need to get your ID renewed (REAL ID or otherwise). We aren’t associated with any of the license-issuing offices, so we definitely recommend calling your local one (links for all are listed in the article) to ask how their process works and if they have any advice on how best to proceed. Best of luck to you!


January 03, 2020


Quick question. When applying for a REAL ID, does it also count as a drivers license? Or do I need a separate driver license card in addition to the REAL ID?

Christy Rodriguez

January 03, 2020

Hi Jelon, a REAL ID is a type of driver’s license. However, be aware that you may have to select if you would like your driver’s license to be compliant with REAL ID or not. If you choose to obtain a REAL ID, check our list of requirements above as you will have to bring more documentation than is required to simply renew a standard driver’s license. Hope this helps!


January 04, 2020

Just went through a 4 week hassle of transitioning my VA car registration over to MD and getting a MD REAL ID License.

My question is this. This article says it’s OPTIONAL, yet when I went and didn’t have a birth certificate they turned me away. I came back with a birth certificate but only had 1 proof of residency and they turned me away.

Finally went back a 3rd time and paid $72 for a REAL ID.

If REAL IDs are optional why was I put through this riggamaroll? It seems REAL IDs are default where I went and the only option presented.

Christy Rodriguez

January 04, 2020

Hi Giggler, I can’t speak to why you were only presented with the REAL ID option, however, on the Maryland MVA’s website, they note that they are still issuing “federally non-compliant driver’s licenses”. This would be what you would receive if you weren’t choosing to get a REAL ID.

If you noted that you wanted to receive a REAL ID, then you must comply with the strict documentation requirements. Hope this answers your question!


January 06, 2020

I need to fly to Tennessee next week! I don’t have a REAL ID. Can I still fly with just my driver’s license up until October 1, 2020?

Jarrod West

January 06, 2020

Hi Lisa,

Yes, you can fly with your regular license until October 1st, 2020.

Thanks for reading!

Michael Crawford

January 09, 2020

So, with what seems to be a great amount of revenue that will be generated with this new requirement, how about comparing what the cost will be to process versus what “Extra Monies” the various states will have to spend as they like. Almost seems like yet another tax being forced upon us with no explanation as to what the surplus money will be spent on.


January 09, 2020

I’m only commenting, and my apologies for wasting anyone’s time if this has been mentioned and is redundant information, but I work for an online travel management company. It is amazing to me how many change requests on airline tickets we receive weekly because of name, identification, and required information needed to walk aboard an aircraft in the United States seems so alien to some. It is imperative when you are making travel arrangements that if you are not familiar with the airline and TSA requirements, today, either study up well before making purchases or seek a local travel agent.

Domestic travel is not as stringent around 1 character or middle names being incorrect or missing, but if travel is international from the United States, just because everyone in your family calls your husband by a nickname, “Dick”, last name Smith, his legal name as it reads on his identification, Richard Lewis Smith III is what the name on his airline ticket must-read. Just because you call your wife Rosie, but her real name is Betty Marie Collier on her driver’s license or passport, she will be calling you her own chosen names when you are unable to board the flight to Paris you’ve promised her, but failed to follow guidelines when you purchased the surprise airline tickets.

If you are unaware, the TSA knows you are coming before you arrive at the airport. If the name provided when you bought your airline tickets is not what you show on your required ID when you arrive at the airport, especially for international travel, you probably won’t be taking the flight you had initially booked…and unless you have deep pockets, nor will you be departing on the day you intended. Airlines are forgiving on name changes outside of the date of travel, some only for minor name changes (1 character misspelled or left off), but some charge for changing a name…$25, $50, etc.
If you find an error in the name on your airline ticket, contact whomever you paid to book the flight and issue the ticket (airline, travel agency, etc.) and they need to provide information to you on getting the name corrected well before your date of departure to match the form of identification you will have in your possession n when the TSA representative holds their gloved hand out to compare your ID to what the airline ticket shows as your name.

When you were Roseland Perez Stuart the day you receive this new driver’s license, and that’s the name on your passport, you are legally Roseland Perez Stuart the day you purchase your airline ticket to Barcelona.

Just use your head. We’re talking security, national security. “Sweet Pea”, or “Honey Bun”, might not be taking a scheduled flight on her honeymoon.

kelly weaver

January 14, 2020

Since the name on my birth certificate is different than my current name, I know I have to show some sort of documentation showing the name change, unfortunately, I was married over 30 years ago and divorced 10 years ago, and retained my married name, and no longer have these documents, do I need to get a copy of my divorce decree or my marriage license? and if so how do I go about doing that. I reside in and was married in California.

Christy Rodriguez

January 14, 2020

Hi Kelly, you are correct. In order to be fully prepared, it would be best to obtain an official copy of both your divorce decree and your marriage license. Typically those can be requested directly from the county clerk’s office where you filed each of these documents.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading!


January 21, 2020

How long after I apply for a Real ID, should I receive it in California?

Christy Rodriguez

January 21, 2020

Hi Ada, your REAL ID will take the same amount of time to arrive as a standard license. California notes that it will arrive 3 weeks after your appointment at your local DMV.

Dan Proesch

January 21, 2020

I’m finding online references that the Real ID and Real ID-compliant Drivers licenses are automatically required to send our pictures to the Federal Facial Recognition Database. Some may find that helpful. Personally, if it is the case I will never get one. Can you verify this?

Christy Rodriguez

January 21, 2020

Hi Dan – we can’t verify this as we aren’t associated with the Department of Homeland Security, who is responsible for implementing the REAL ID Act. We are Upgraded Points, a website dedicated to providing in-depth articles, like this one explaining REAL IDs.

We can direct you to the REAL ID FAQs by the DHS where they note “REAL ID does not create a federal database of driver license information. Each jurisdiction continues to issue its own unique license, maintains its own records, and controls who gets access to those records and under what circumstances. The purpose of REAL ID is to make our identity documents more consistent and secure.”

Hope this helps.


January 22, 2020

I would like an answer to the question please.

Christy Rodriguez

January 22, 2020

Hi Jane, I’m sorry, but I don’t see a question from you? I’d be happy to answer when we receive one. Thanks!


January 26, 2020

My Alaska DL is expiring soon and so will need to renew. Will licenses automatically renew as REAL IDs going forward or do I have to specify that I want a Real ID instead of a regular DL?

Christy Rodriguez

January 27, 2020

Hi Lynn, when your license expires, it will not automatically renew as a REAL ID. In fact, you will need to go in person to get your REAL ID.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading!


January 28, 2020

I am flying to Orlando in June 2020, do I need a real ID?

Jarrod West

January 28, 2020

Hi Kris,

REAL ID’s will not be required for air travel until October of 2020.

Beth Johnson

February 07, 2020

In your article, you listed Tennessee as a state that doesn’t have a star on the REAL ID, that is incorrect.
Tennessee in fact does have a star on the new REAL ID, thank you.

Christy Rodriguez

February 07, 2020

Hi Beth, thanks for letting us know. We’ve updated the article to reflect this!


February 19, 2020

My license was renewed in 2015 and expire in 2021. Why was I not given a real ID when I renewed my license since the law was passed in 2005? So I was given a fake ID. Why should I have to pay to get a real ID?

Jarrod West

February 20, 2020

Hi Ellen,

You are not required to get a REAL ID if you choose not to. It is only required for those who want to travel domestically via airplane, who don’t already have a U.S. Passport.


February 28, 2020


What if my driver’s license expires in March 2021 but I need the Travel ID by Oct 2020?

Do I have to go back next year and take a written exam and pay again for the renewal?

Thank you for any info.

Christy Rodriguez

February 28, 2020

Hi Annette, a REAL ID isn’t required to travel. Please refer to the other TSA-approved forms of ID that we’ve noted in the article. You can use any of these (such as a passport, Global Entry card, etc.) that are also approved for travel. You can renew your license and choose to get a REAL ID in March 2021.

Hope this helps!


March 03, 2020

Hi Christy,

Thank you for taking the time to write an informative article and answer everyone’s questions. I live in FL and DO NOT want a real ID. I have called the DMV and they have never heard of a non-real ID. They just said they only issue Real ID driver’s licenses. I then called the state who said they have never heard of a non-real id and their manager said they have never heard of a non-real id. I then contacted the TSA who knew exactly what a non-real id was but said they have no jurisdiction over what states do. Do you have any information or direction of who I can speak to regarding getting a non-real ID driver’s license or a law stating I cannot be forced into getting this? Thanks!

Christy Rodriguez

March 03, 2020

Hi Dawn, I appreciate the kind words. I would suggest calling it a “standard driver’s license” or even a “federally non-compliant license”. In addition, if you are eligible to renew online, you would receive a non-REAL ID as these must be obtained in person. Maybe another reader from FL can help out with their experience as well?

Hope this helps you!

Steven Mauro

March 05, 2020

Hi Christy,
My Mother In Law is in FL, she can no longer drive, is almost blind and wheelchair-bound, so her license expired 10 years ago. The only ID she has is her Florida State Issued ID and her passport. We are trying to have her come visit in Pennsylvania around May. What exactly will she need in order to be able to board the plane? and if the info on her passport and the state ID does not exactly match. Which info do I give when I purchase her ticket?

Christy Rodriguez

March 05, 2020

Hi Steven, if her passport is valid, I would suggest using that for her travels. In that instance, be sure that her information on her ticket matches the information on the passport to make things easier. Hope this helps!


March 10, 2020

Hi, I got my state REAL ID before I applied for a driver’s license. When I got my DL-ID, it’s not a real ID compliant. Can I also have my DL to be REAL ID-compliant?

Christy Rodriguez

March 10, 2020

Hi Michelle, I’m sorry, but I’m a bit confused when you say that you applied for your state’s REAL ID before your driver’s license since a REAL ID is also a driver’s license. Maybe you could clarify and I’d be happy to help. Thanks!


April 19, 2020

I was curious, is one able to obtain a Real ID if they are on Parole or Probation?

Christy Rodriguez

April 20, 2020

Hi Kodee, there are no restrictions in place that would prevent someone who is on parole or probation from obtaining a REAL ID. As long as you can meet your state’s requirements for documentation, you will be able to obtain a REAL ID. Thanks for reading!

Marlloris Martinez

June 06, 2020

I just went and got a replacement Driver’s License on Tuesday, June 2nd, and received it on June 5th in the mail. This time I decide to get the Real ID Driver License with the STAR on it. My only problem is they issued it for one year and it expires already next year. I’m not sure if upgrading my driver’s license was a mistake and now I have to go every to renew it and pay $30.00 again.

Christy Rodriguez

June 07, 2020

Hi Marlloris, you noted that you got a replacement license, so this might be why it was only good for a year in order to match with your previous expiration date. Typically you will have to pay for a replacement license anyways, so depending on your state, the additional cost of “upgrading” to a REAL ID might have been minimal. Moving forward, you will only have to pay to renew your license once every 5-10 years (depending on your state). Hope this helps!

fernanda santoyo

June 10, 2020

What about people who aren’t born in the USA?
And don’t have access to get a REAL ID but have a passport, but not from the USA?

Christine Krzyszton

June 10, 2020

Hello Fernanda. A passport, as mentioned in the article, is an acceptable form of ID. “Starting October 1, 2021, every state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license/ID or another acceptable form of identification (like a passport or passport card) for accessing federal facilities — including boarding commercial aircraft.”

Joe K.

June 24, 2020

Great Forum you have going here!

I have a Calif. “Real ID” Driver’s license and own a house here. I also own a house in Hawaii. I want to get a Hawaii Real ID “STATE” ID (not Driver’s License) and make that my primary residence but keep my Calif. DRIVER’s license since I go back and forth. I don’t want a REAL ID from Calif, but only from Hawaii. Is that ok? And do I turn in my current CA REAL ID Driver’s license to Hawaii?

Christy Rodriguez

June 24, 2020

Hi Joe, thank you – and thanks for reading! You need to be licensed in the state that you are considered to have permanent residency in. In your case, this sounds like Hawaii, not California. You couldn’t keep your CA driver’s license in this instance.

Once you get a REAL ID from Hawaii, CA will be informed of your change in status and your old license will be invalidated. I hope this helps!


June 25, 2020

Thank you for your fast response!


September 18, 2020

I need to renew my standard Massachusetts driver’s license soon. I have my passport and don’t really need a REAL ID. Can I just renew to another standard Massachusetts license online? Is it gonna be good for another 5 years? Or will my renewed license will expire on October 31, 2021? Is a REAL ID mandatory?

Christy Rodriguez

September 18, 2020

Hi Maria, if you don’t need a REAL ID, you do not need to get one – it is not mandatory. It sounds like a standard license will be just fine for you. And yes, your new standard license will be good for another 5 years. Just be sure that you bring along your passport when traveling domestically starting on October 1, 2021. Thanks for reading!


September 20, 2020

Hello, I was reviewing the information and see where the effective date has changed from October 2020 to October 2021. Shouldn’t the verbiage read “moved OUT one year to October 1, 2021, instead of BACK? If you use move back one year, then it should have been October 1, 2019, and not 2021.
Below is what I have copied from your information:
Note: The original date of compliance was October 1, 2020, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was moved back one year to October 1, 2021.
Please let me know. Thanks, in advance, for your attention to this.

Christy Rodriguez

September 20, 2020

Hi Miranda, thanks for your comment. We were referring to the date of compliance being pushed back a year from 2020 to 2021. We’ve updated the article to change “moved” to “pushed” to make this less confusing.

Thanks for reading.


November 27, 2020

Is there a character limit regarding the name on the driving license (Real ID or not)?

I live in New Mexico and have had this problem before, regarding SSN.

If there is a limit, does it mean that I will not be able to have a driving license, as my full legal name is 33 characters long?

Thank you.

Jarrod West

November 28, 2020

Hi Jorge,

There does not appear to be any information regarding this available online. So I recommend you contact your local DMV office to find out.


November 28, 2020

Thank you, Jarrod.

Sarah Gray

February 17, 2021

I can’t find a DMV open in NM right now. I need to get my daughter an ID so she can fly in March. Even if it’s not a Real ID, the plane will not allow her to get on one without it. She doesn’t have a passport. Any other options? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Jarrod West

February 17, 2021

Hi Sarah,

What resource are you using to check to see if DMV’s are open? According to their government page, it seems that there quite a few locations that are open M-F. If you’re not able to get her a state ID in time you can use any of these other forms of identification instead.

Sarah Gray

February 18, 2021

Thanks so much for the suggestion! Unfortunately, the website is not updated. it says they’re open but you can’t make an appointment and when you call they say they are closed. We can’t get any other ID.

Scott F

March 08, 2021

Question: My California Driver License expires 1/2022. It does NOT state “federal limits apply”, nor does it have a star or anything, as it was issued in 2016. My understanding is that I will not need to upgrade to the Real ID until it has expired as it does not state that this current ID is limited in any way. What are your thoughts?

Jarrod West

March 08, 2021

Hi Scott,

That is correct. You should not need to upgrade your ID until it expires, unless you plan to use your ID for domestic airline travel after October 1st, 2021.


April 12, 2021

I’m glad you didn’t write a liberal opinion piece about how unfair and unAmerican it is to have voter ID’s.

All I want from the press are facts when giving the NEWS, not opinions.

Thank you


November 23, 2021

If my CA drivers license says ‘federal limits apply’ can I use this for domestic travel (to hawaii) until the new Real ID date of May 2023?

Jarrod West

November 29, 2021

Hi Tessa,

Yes, you should be fine to use that to travel to Hawaii.

Heather Feather

December 24, 2021

I am in CA. Applied for my Real ID a long time ago. It arrived in snail mail 12/22/2021 with an expiration date of my Birthday in January 2027. As my regular driver’s license expires 2022, I had received a renewal notice indicating the need to take the written test, fingerprints and new photo. However, now I have a valid Driver’s license with REAL ID that says it expires in 2027, do I need to keep the appointment to do all that the notice indicates? Guidance appreciated.

Jarrod West

December 29, 2021

Hi Heather,

Since you already have a new drivers license, my guess would be that you should not have to keep that appointment, but I would contact your local DMV just to make certain.


August 01, 2022

I got my Real ID when I renewed my Florida license in April. I have flown several times and it won’t go through the security machine. So I show my global entry card. What do I do to correct this? Do I have to get a new one?

Jarrod West

August 01, 2022

Hi Dinah,

I would contact your local DMW to see if they can determine what the issue with your ID is.


April 13, 2023

Hi. My Real ID expires in September but I will travel in May. Do I need to renew it because it is less than 6 month validity? Thanks

Jarrod West

April 14, 2023

Hi Rose,

As long as it has not expired when you travel then you should not have any issues.


May 24, 2023

I don’t want a real ID nor do I need one, as I do not fly and will not enter any building requiring me to have the ID, but have no issues carrying additional information if that happens on some rare unlikely occasion. I had to deal with my wife being raped and murdered in our own home because the person was able to get our address from her stolen driver license, so I do not want my address available for all to see and deal with the pain with my daughter (she’s gorgeous and guys of all ages follow her everywhere she goes.)

How do we get just a regular driver license so we may have just the PO Box on the front and piece of mind?

I am so sorry for your loss. Securing a REAL ID is not necessary if you’re not flying or if you have a passport. You can still obtain a regular driver’s license using the same process you have in the past. Whether or not you can have a P.O. Box on it may be determined by the requirements of your state of residence.

Melvin Duncan

July 28, 2023

How many years do you get with the real ID?

Jarrod West

July 29, 2023

Hi Melvin,

Typically anywhere from 3 to 8 years depending on your state and age.

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