Get REAL ID Ready Before October 1st 2020!

Does your driver’s license have a star at the top?  If not, then you will want to keep reading. Beginning October 1, 2020, all travelers, 18 and up, will need to have a REAL ID compliant driver’s license* or other form of acceptable identification such as a passport to fly in the U.S. What does this mean for you?

It seems like we’ve been hearing about REAL ID forever and maybe we’ve all gotten used to thinking it’s never really happening. Well, it’s happening!  October 1st, 2020 will be the official start of the REAL ID program. Even if you don’t plan on taking a trip anytime soon, it’s probably best to go ahead and get the new REAL ID compliant ID just in case. For anyone who travels, or is planning to travel by plane, you definitely want to apply for your REAL ID sooner rather than later. There will probably be some backlog of last-minute applicants this fall! Truth be told, I may be one of them!

To get a REAL ID driver’s license, you simply need to go to your state motor vehicle agency. Typically, you need to show proof of your social security number, date of birth, and U.S. citizenship, along with two different documents verifying your state of residency. But save yourself some time and check with your local agency before showing up to make sure you bring the proper documents with you. Women who have been married and changed their last name, may need to show their marriage certificate as well.

Unsure if you have a REAL ID compliant license? Look for the star in the upper portion of the card*. Generally, it is a gold or black star, a star cutout in a gold or black circle or a star cutout in a gold grizzly bear. Just because your state is “REAL ID compliant” does not mean your driver’s license is. So, make sure!

If you’re travelling internationally, you can still use your passport as identification but any time you are flying domestically, it will need to be REAL ID compliant as of October 1. Want to be a rebel or just don’t have time to get to the DMV? There is a list of acceptable alternative forms of identification listed here.

The bottom line is, if you plan on traveling on or after October 1, 2020, you will want to check your driver’s license for that star and make sure if you don’t have one you get down to your state motor vehicle agency and apply for your REAL ID as soon as possible. Missing a vacation because you forgot to update your identification is going to be hard to explain to the family!

*Note: Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue REAL ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which are acceptable. State-issued enhanced driver’s licenses do not have a star on the top of the card.

Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only. These documents will be accepted at the airport security checkpoint when the REAL ID enforcement goes into effect.

Tara Woodbury
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