AAA Magazine

Real ID: What It Means for You

Long, crowded lines through TSA security checkpoints at Denver airport

Identification requirements are changing for domestic flights


You may need a different form of ID—a Real ID—to board a domestic flight beginning October 1, 2020. That’s when the federal Real ID Act takes effect and standard driver licenses will no longer be an accepted form of identification by the Transportation Security Administration. 

Real ID–compliant driver licenses and identification cards are now available in most locations where you would normally get or renew your driver’s license, but you must visit the office in person with several documents proving your identity and residence to get one. Appointments are highly recommended. 

You do not need a Real ID driver’s license to continue driving after October 1, 2020. There's no need to rush to get a Real ID if you already have a valid passport, passport card, or current military identification card. You can use those instead of a Real ID to board domestic flights after October 1, 2020.

Even if you don’t have a valid passport or passport card, they are usually easier to obtain than a Real ID driver’s license or ID card. Passport processing facilities are in many post offices, libraries, and other local government offices. Both passports and passport cards are valid for 10 years. You can visit your local AAA branch to take member-discounted passport photos, and visit travel.state.gov for passport applications, requirements, and appointments. 

The offices handling driver’s licenses and State Department are expecting a huge surge in demand for Real ID licenses and passports as the deadline draws closer, so don’t wait until it’s too late.

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