Real ID deadline is rapidly approaching, what to know about the new flight requirement

Real ID deadline is rapidly approaching, what to know about the new flight requirement

The really real deadline to make your state-issued identified card, or driver’s license Real ID compliant will be here before you know it. 

And you won’t be fly domestically after 2025 without it. The government has been trying to make Real IDs a thing for a while, initially passing The Real ID act in 2005 in an attempt to set “minimum security standards” for state-issued identification documents.

The law was set to take effect in 2020 but was pushed back by the Department of Homeland Security over “backlogged transactions” at MVD offices nationwide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to USA TODAY reporting

The May 2025 extension was necessary, DHS says, as state driver’s licensing agencies worked to address the mountains of paperwork, which in turn impacted the MVD’s ability to make any real progress on the Real ID rollout. 

“Following the enforcement deadline, federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, will be prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards that do not meet these federal standards,” DHS said in 2022. 

That means every every traveler, 18 or older, must have a compliant form of identification in order to travel.

Here’s what to know. 

When does Real ID go into effect? 

The Real ID “full enforcement date” is Wednesday, May 7, 2025, according to DHS. 

When will a Real ID be required to fly?

You or your loved ones need to have a Real ID compliant document, driver’s license or identification card, by May 7, 2025. 

If you have another form of identification that is TSA-approved, like an up to date passport or a permanent resident card then you probably don’t need a Real ID compliant document.

Here are a couple TSA-approved alternatives, if you’re on the fence about getting a Real ID.

  • State issued enhanced driver’s license
  •  DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Border crossing card
  • An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
  •  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
  •  Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

How long does it take to get a Real ID?

It will take about two weeks, or 15 business days to get your Real ID or Enhanced Driver’s License from your state’s Motor Vehicle Department.

Enhanced driver’s licenses, which are only issued in a couple of states, including Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Vermont, are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-compliant cards, DHS says. 

How do I know if I have a Real ID? 

All Real IDs will have a stamp on the right hand corner to show that the identification document meets federal standards set forth by The Real ID Act of 2005. 

The symbol stamped on your Real ID card will vary, depending on which state you obtain your new identification card from. 

What does a Real ID look like? 

Your Real ID will have most, if not all of the information that’s included on your driver’s license. 

The only difference is the seal included in the right-hand corner. 

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