What Is REAL ID and How Will It Affect Me?

What Is REAL ID? A common question that most people do not know -but should!

In 2005, the US Congress passed the REAL ID Act in response to the events of 9/11.  The REAL ID Act establishes a standard for issuing State identifications such as driving licenses.

The REAL ID Act is designed to eliminate terrorism on planes by making obtaining a driving license or identification card more challenging.

US Congress is now mandating what State Agencies must collect before issuing a form of identification. Additionally, the new compliant cards have a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that reads the information in a wireless device or tag without physical contact or requiring a line of sight.


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What is REAL ID, and What is its purpose?

To restrict access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and commercial boarding aircraft without the proper identification.

How Does REAL ID Affect Me?

It depends!

  • Not A US Citizen or US Resident: There is no effect because you will have entered with your passport, and you can use your passport to travel.
  • US Citizen or US Resident: The enforcement date is May 3, 2023., travelers who do not have a license from a compliant state or a state that has been granted an extension will be asked to provide acceptable alternate identification. You can check the status of each state here.
  • Children Under Eighteen: It does not apply to children under eighteen accompanied by an adult with a compliant REAL ID. The guidelines of how TSA will treat an unaccompanied minor are vague, so you will need to check with the airlines directly.

Starting May 7, 2025, all travelers who are 18 and older will need a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of ID, such as a US passport, when flying from a US airport.

Post-May 7, 2025, you will no longer be able to use a driving license or ID that is not REAL ID-compliant as identification for domestic flights within the United States of America.

How to tell if an ID or driving license is REAL ID Compliant:

This is straightforward; compliant ones have a star in the upper right-hand corner.

Ironically, Florida has been compliant forever, and Brian has never had an issue using his ID. However,  I suspect this will change next year, and he will need to get a new and updated license.

Here is Brian’s non-compliant license, and notice that there is no star:

What Is REAL ID None Compliant License FL

My old Florida license, which was a complaint:

What Is REAL ID Compliant License

My new Florida license that is compliant:

What Is REAL ID None Compliant License 2

What if my ID is not REAL ID Compliant?

Fortunately, you have options!

  1. Renew your current ID or Driving License
  2. Replace your existing ID or Driving License
  3. Use an alternative method of identification. Here is a complete list of acceptable identification.

What is the REAL ID? Closing Thoughts:

Most states are already compliant. This does not mean your ID or Driving License is. Check yours and make sure they are REAL ID Compliant. Some states have extensive reviews. You can check the status of each state here. By May 7, 2025, the bottom line is that you will not be permitted through the security checkpoint if you cannot provide an acceptable form of identification.

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