What is a REAL ID?

Person holding a REAL ID

Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 02:41 pm

A REAL ID is an ID or driver’s license that has been federally approved for use to gain access to nuclear power plants, federal facilities and federally regulated commercial aircraft in the U.S.

There will be no changes to the ID’s functionality, it will simply have a mark that indicates that the identified person has been approved by the federal government for the above-mentioned areas. Each state will still have its own IDs and licenses and rules about how and where they can be used, but the federal government is implementing standardization across all 50 states for added security in sensitive areas.

There are a few states (New York, Vermont, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington) that currently issue Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs). These Homeland Security-designed licenses will continue to be an acceptable form of identification, including in federal areas.
Passports and passport cards will also still be accepted for these purposes.

Why is the government changing to REAL ID?

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act at the suggestion of the 9/11 Commission to increase federal standardization on identification. This is in an effort to prevent future terrorist attacks by making access to federal spaces contingent on having a federally approved form of identification. The intention is for the federal government to have a better idea of who has been screened and officially approved by them so as to avoid different states’ standards from impacting national security.

What is the timeline for REAL ID implementation?

As previously mentioned, the REAL ID Act was passed in 2005, so it has been almost two decades since the federal government first decided that this was a necessary change. The original deadline was in 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new deadline is May 3, 2023. The federal government is closely monitoring each state’s progress with making their IDs federally compliant and 55 of the U.S. states and territories already are compliant. This means that, for most of you, you could get your REAL ID as soon as you are able. Check with your state’s DMV to be sure that they’re ready for REAL ID issuance.

Once the deadline comes, a REAL ID will be required by TSA for all passengers under the age of 18 in order to board domestic flights in the U.S. Passports will still be accepted, however.

How can I tell if I have a REAL ID?

You may have a REAL ID and not realize that you do. A REAL ID most often has a star in the upper right-hand corner. States can submit a different design to the Department of Homeland Security for review that would help distinguish a compliant ID from a non-compliant one, but so far, the star is the norm. In the future, we might see things like differences in color or font to distinguish the cards.

How do I get a REAL ID?

Some states require more documentation than others to obtain a REAL ID, but the minimum requirements are: full legal name, date of birth, Social Security Number, two proofs of address of principal residence, and lawful status. Even if you provided some or all of this information when you got your ID originally when applying for a REAL ID you will need to provide them again so that you can be verified by the federal government.

You will take this documentation to your local DMV and let them know that you would like a REAL ID. In many cases you can complete the application online before going into a DMV office, so be sure to check with your state’s DMV website for their individual processes for issuance.

Will REAL IDs affect IDScan.net’s ability to scan IDs and keep my business KYC compliant?

IDScan.net’s vast library of different forms of identification is constantly being reviewed and updated to include all new forms of identification, including REAL IDs. As differences in distinguishing marks occur state-by-state as we discussed earlier, IDScan.net will be poised and ready to incorporate these changes in our database. IDScan.net is always ahead of the curve when it comes to identity verification solutions!