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REAL ID is a new form of identification that will be required for U.S. airport travel starting in October of 2020. If you’ve renewed your license in the last few years, you might be in luck -- several states have been giving out REAL IDs for several years without special request or inquiry.

If you’re curious if your license is REAL ID compliant, look for a star in the upper corner of your ID (see image below). If you can see one, you’re good to go! If not, read on to learn how you can obtain your own REAL ID, plus more about the new policy and how it will impact air travel within the States.

Examples of stars on Real IDs.

Why Is REAL ID Being Implemented?

The REAL ID Act was enacted after 9/11 to ensure the safety of passengers and minimize terrorism by requiring new, more secure forms of identification to get through security.

REAL IDs are made using a new form of technology, making them harder to counterfeit.

How REAL ID Requirements Will Affect Your Travels

Starting in October of 2020, every time you fly within the U.S., you'll need a REAL ID ready to go. Children under the age of 18 who are accompanied by an adult don’t need to worry about procuring this new form of ID, but if you’re over the age of 18, you’ll want to be ready for the new policy.

Alternatives You Can Use Instead

Technically, you won’t be legally required to have a REAL ID, but if you don’t, you’ll have to plan ahead and bring a TSA-approved alternative form of identification every time you fly within the States.

Approved forms of identification include U.S. passports and passport cards. There are several other types of ID you can bring in place of a REAL ID, too. These include:

  • Permanent resident card
  • State-issued enhanced driver’s license
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID
  • Foreign government-issued passport
A sign about Real ID requirements in an airport.

How To Obtain Your Own REAL ID

In order to get your own REAL ID, you’ll have to go to the DMV. There’s really nothing worse than going to the DMV and waiting in line for hours just to be told you’re missing the correct documents, so before your appointment, make sure you double check the application requirements.

Most DMVs require a few things. First, bring proof of identity. Think your birth certificate, passport, permanent resident card, or employment authorization document. Second, bring some evidence of your Social Security Number -- your Social Security card or a W-2. Also bring proof of residency -- a lease agreement, mortgage statement, or utility bill. If you recently changed your name, bring documentation -- a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or legal paperwork that verifies the change.

The Price Of The New ID

Unfortunately, you will have to pay for your new form of ID. Fees vary by state. Most states charge less than $50 for a REAL ID, with exceptions in a few states, including Washington and Massachusetts, which charge as much as $80. If you want to know the price in advance, this handy map will help you prepare for your DMV visit.

On a similar note, we tackled the topic of TSA Precheck. Is it worth the money? Is it a waste of money? The TravelAwaits team weighs in.

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