The Real Deal About Real ID

March 29, 2020

Note: The following information has been updated as of March 29, 2020. To stay up to date with the latest news and information on Real ID, visit the Department of Homeland Security's website at 

Everything You Need to Know About What’s Happening to Your Driver’s License

The Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, regulates which IDs are valid for access to three important places:

  • Federal facilities (including courthouses)
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Federally-regulated commercial aircraft (i.e. airplanes)

If you don’t have a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or passport, you won’t be able to get into a federal courthouse or fly, even within the United States.

Is Your State Real ID Compliant?

These states have extensions and deadlines by which they must become compliant with the Real ID Act:

  • Oklahoma – September 18, 2020
  • Oregon – August 7, 2020 

October 1, 2021 – the date by which you must have a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or other compliant ID to fly.

What a Real ID Looks Like

In most states, if your driver’s license is a Real ID, there will be a gold or black star (or a bear in California) in the front, top right-hand corner of your license.

If your ID is NOT compliant, there will be wording on the front that says “Not for Federal Identification,” “Federal Limits Apply,” “For Driving Privileges Only” or something similar.


The Bottom Line

When you renew your driver’s license, get a Real ID. If your state doesn’t give you the option, don’t worry. That means your license is already compliant.

U.S. Passports are Real ID-Compliant!

Facts & Figures

48 – The number of states that are already compliant with the Real ID Act. Check out this cool, interactive, color-coded map to check yours!

15 – The number of valid identification types accepted by the Department of Homeland Security for travel at airports

$11 billion – The cost to implement the Real ID Act

253 million – The number of Americans affected by the Real ID Act. That’s the same number as everyone over age 18 in America!


Did you know?

That the Real ID began as a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission? They said the Federal Government needed to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” Basically, driver’s licenses were too easy to fake. The Commission said by making IDs more secure, we could make our country, and travel, safer. A Real ID shows that you are who you say you are.

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