Everything you need to know about REAL ID

Starting on May 7, 2025, all adults (18 and older) will need a REAL ID, “enhanced” driver’s license, or passport to fly within the United States. After this date, standard licenses will no longer be accepted as a valid form of identification for passing through airport security for domestic flights or entering federal buildings. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses are marked with a gold or black star in the upper right-hand corner.

To get a REAL ID, you’ll need to make an appointment at your local DMV. This process may be started online, but you will need to go in person to present official documentation of your identity. These documents may include, but are not limited to, social security cards, passports, birth certificates, bank statements, and address-verifying documents. (IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are asked to upload these documents through an online portal, this is a scam.)

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, was introduced as a security barrier after 9/11/2001, to set federal standards for driver’s license issuance. However, these ID cards are still state-issued and are not for national identification or database-keeping purposes. All 50 U.S. states, D.C., and U.S. territories have adopted REAL ID identification cards. While REAL ID is optional in many states, it is strongly recommended, especially for frequent travelers. For more information, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website or your local DMV.