Adele DiRende a RoamRight Blog Author

The REAL ID Deadline is Approaching: Are You Ready?

The new identification requirement deadline of October 1, 2020 is fast approaching. The new REAL ID or any of the other forms of approved identification listed below will be necessary for air travel for U.S. citizens boarding flights to or from U.S. airports, yet most Americans are unaware of what the REAL ID Act is and if their ID’s are in compliance with it. Not having your form of identification REAL ID-compliant by the deadline may affect your travel plans.

The following is a summary of the REAL ID Act and the changes that will result. For a full explanation, visit

What is REAL ID?

The REAL ID Act was established in 2005 after the events of 9/11. The Act was passed in an effort to enhance security at airports by creating a standard across driver’s licenses and photo identity cards from all states. Specifics of how REAL ID’s will be implemented will be up to each state, but will be federally regulated in order to create a national standard.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) planned to implement the REAL ID Act in stages in order to gradually integrate it into society. The first three phases were put in place at increasing security at DHS headquarters, nuclear power plants, and other federal facilities. The fourth phase is aimed at air travel to bolster TSA’s security measures.

Why do I need it?

In order for a U.S. citizen to board a plane in or headed for a destination in the U.S., they must have REAL ID identification or one of the other forms of approved identification listed below or at This applies even for domestic flights. This REAL ID must be presented at security measures such as TSA checkpoints in order to be able to board a plane. If travelers do not present a form of REAL ID at these security checkpoints, they will be turned away.

No need to fret just yet, though. ID’s that are non-compliant will still be accepted and are able to be used to board flights up until the deadline of October 1, 2020. As long as you obtain a REAL ID-compliant form of identification before the deadline, your travel plans will not be affected by this change.

How do I know if my license or ID card is REAL ID compliant?

REAL ID-compliant licenses and photo identity cards will be marked in the upper right corner in one of the following ways depending on the state of issuance:

If your ID does not have one of these markings in the upper right corner, it is not REAL ID compliant and will need to be replaced if you have plans to fly after the deadline.

How do I get my REAL ID?

To find out how to go about getting your REAL ID, check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see the process that you need to go through. Depending on the status of your current ID, some states may require additional supporting documents called the Core Four. The Core Four are four pieces of documentation used to verify your age and residency in order to process your REAL ID. Documents such as a passport, birth certificate, and bills may be used for this, but check with your state’s DMV to see which documents are supported and how you may obtain them.

What are other acceptable forms of identification?

In the case that you are unable to secure a REAL ID by the deadline next year, you may be able to board an international or domestic flight by presenting other forms of approved identification. These can include a:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

Visit our website to read more about what you can do if your ID or other travel documents are lost or stolen, and other ways you can prepare for your trip ahead of time.

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.

About the Author

Adele DiRende

Adele DiRende, a RoamRight Blog Author

Adele DiRende is a Marketing Intern currently pursuing a degree in Mass Communications at Towson University. Although the wallet of a college student is not kind to those with a passion for travel, Adele has experience in international travel to places like Italy and the UK, as well as domestic travel around the U.S. In addition to travel, Adele enjoys photography, music, and creative writing. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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