Real ID Act: All You Need to Know about Real ID Use, Application Process, Deadline, Alternatives

Guide to Real ID, Real ID Act in USA, Real ID Process, Real ID Deadline, Real ID Application Process
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What is Real ID?

Real ID is a state driver’s license that meets a new set of federal security standards for domestic air travel within the United States. In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, in response to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. This Act imposes a set of security standards for license issuance and production, along with prohibiting Federal agencies from accepting certain ID cards from the states that do not meet the Act’s standards.

Real IDs can be used to board federally regulated commercial aircraft, enter nuclear power plants, and avail of certain federal services. US citizens who are traveling domestically via air will not be allowed to board the flight in case they don’t have a Real ID or any other acceptable form of identification. The Transport Security Administration does not require children under 18 to provide identification while traveling with a guardian within the United States. However, the guardian must have acceptable IDs. On the other hand, the Real ID cannot be used for land or sea travel, be it domestic or international.

How to get a Real ID? 

To get a Real ID, one must visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in person, along with a proof of identity, Social Security Number and two proofs of residence. For example, a birth certificate or valid US passport, a Social Security card or tax documents and a valid driver’s license with the current street address plus a recent utility bill. A Real ID can be recognized by a mark at the top of the card. There are five markings including a black star, a golden star, and a golden bear with a star.

Real ID-compliant US States

Currently, all the US states are Real ID-compliant except Oregon and Oklahoma, which are in extension; American Samoa and New Jersey are under review. TSA is currently accepting all driver’s licenses and ID cards from the states that are compliant or have an extension from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Deadline for Real ID

The final deadline for Real ID is October 1, 2020. In order to fly on commercial aircraft or access federal facilities, an individual must have visited their state’s driver’s licensing agency and obtained a REAL ID-compliant card, or an acceptable alternative such as a U.S. passport. Starting October 2020, federal agencies including DHS and TSA will only accept state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Also Read: US IT Companies File $350 Million Lawsuit against USCIS

What IDs can be used instead of Real ID?

The alternate IDs that can be used instead of Real ID are – 

  • US Passport
  • US Passport Card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards
  • US Department of Defence ID
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by DMV
  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 Personal Identification Verification card
  • Foreign government-issued passports
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card
  • US Merchant Mariner Credential 
  • Federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID

According to DHS, enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) issued by cities like Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont are considered to be an acceptable alternative to Real ID-compliant cards. 

The DHS has stated that the Real ID is just a national set of standards that helps to make a citizen’s identity documents more consistent and secure. Real ID is not used to create a federal database of driver license information. On the other hand, each jurisdiction continues to issue its own unique license, maintains its own records, and controls who gets access to those records and under what circumstances.


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