Food, Travel and Tech

Yes, you need a Real ID to fly domestically. Here's what to know as the 2023 deadline approaches

D3sign | Moment | Getty Images

Beginning May, 3 2023, Americans over the age of 18 will need a Real ID-compliant license to fly domestically. 

A standard state ID or driver's license that is not the new security-enhanced form of identification will no longer be sufficient to board flights. You can use a passport or Green Card to travel domestically if you don't have a Real ID-compliant drivers license.  

The requirement was initially slated to begin way back in 2008 but has been delayed for a variety of reasons, including because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Because government offices have been operating at a slower pace during the last three years, only about 43% of state-issued licenses are Real ID-compliant, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement in April

In order to get one you'll need a bit more documentation than is required for a regular license and you might have to pay a higher fee, too.

Here's what to know about the Real ID and how to get yours before the deadline.

What is a Real ID? 

Real ID-compliant licenses were designed to be a bit harder to obtain than standard licenses.

Requiring one to fly is part of the Real ID Act, a measure passed in 2005 to increase national security after September 11. 

Nearly all the hijackers during the attacks obtained US licenses fraudulently or by using fraudulent documents. The law is meant to tighten national standards to close this loophole. 

You might already have a Real ID as many states have been administering them for years. In Colorado, for example, most drivers licenses have been Real-ID compliant since 2012

To tell if you already have one, just look at your current license. If there's a star in the right-hand corner, your ID is Real ID-compliant.

How do I get a Real ID? 

In most states you will have to visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles to switch your ID over. To obtain it you will need to provide the following at the DMV: 

  • Your social security card.
  • Proof of address. This is often found on bank statements, pay stubs, and utility bills.
  • Verification of your name and date of birth. You can use your passport or birth certificate.

You can find a list of exactly what you need to bring on your state's DMV site. 

Does it cost extra to get a Real ID? 

In most states a Real ID will not cost any more than a license. But some states are charging a fee.

In Pennsylvania, for example, there is an additional, one-time fee of $30.  

You'll be able to find additional information about cost on your state's DMV site.

Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter

Don't miss:

These are the top 10 best and worst places to live in the world—and you won't find the U.S. on either list

These are the top 10 most bike-friendly cities in the world – San Francisco and Portland didn't make the list