What You Need to Know About the New Identification Requirements

If you’ve ever spent time standing in line at an airport waiting to get through security screenings, you know that air travel can be an involved process. Immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, stricter procedures were implemented at airports to increase the safety of those on the ground and in the air. While security measures were increased, a review by the 9/11 Commission led to a recommendation that a federal standard of identification be implemented for enhanced security in a variety of settings. The Real ID Act was passed in Congress in 2005, and the upcoming deadline for implementation means it’s time for you to make sure your personal identification is compliant.

What is a Real ID?

A Real ID is a state-issued driver’s license or DMV-issued ID card. To obtain one, applicants must provide original documents that may include a U.S passport or U.S. birth certificate, a social security card and mail proving state residency. Most states have a Department of Motor Vehicles website that details requirements.

When is the deadline?

The deadline has been extended to May 7, 2025.

Why do you need a Real ID?

It is not legally necessary to obtain a Real ID, but if you travel by air or often enter federal buildings, such as a courthouse or legislative building, you will likely want one. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that after May 7, 2025, a Real ID, a state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID, such as a passport, will be required to fly within the United States. Accessing certain federal facilities and entering nuclear power plants will also be covered by the new identification standards.

Is a state-issued enhanced driver’s license the same as a Real ID?

Some states on the United States border issue enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs) which additionally serve as identification for land or sea crossings into Canada, Mexico or some countries in the Caribbean. (A passport is still required for international air travel.) All driver’s licenses issued by Washington state are EDLs. An enhanced license, permit or non-driver ID is Federal Real ID compliant.

How do I know if I already have a Real ID?

A Real ID has a star on the top of the card or it’s an Enhanced license.

Who needs a Real ID?

The new security standards will apply to anyone 18 years of age and older.

How do I get a Real ID if I don’t already have one?

Real IDs and enhanced driver’s licenses are issued through the Department of Motor Vehicles, or similar agency in each state. You’ll need to make an in-person visit to your local branch and will be required to provide documents proving your identity. Contact your DMV for more information on the process.