REAL ID Act: What You Need to Know

Did you know that on October 1, 2020 every air traveler aged 18 and up will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID (valid passport, federal government PIV card or U.S. military ID) to fly within the United States?

No doubt you’ve already heard about the REAL ID requirements from friends, relatives, or even on the news. The TSA launched a public awareness campaign about the upcoming changes so that every traveler is prepared for the airport security checkpoint process when the REAL ID Act goes into effect.

What Is the REAL ID Act?

From the TSA website: Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act complies with the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes, such as at airport security checkpoints. The regulations established the deadline of October 1, 2020, to ensure full enforcement of the REAL ID Act by that date.

What You Need to Know

Starting October 1, 2020, those who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the TSA checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly. REAL ID-compliant licenses are generally marked by a star on the top of the card. Travelers who aren’t sure if their ID is compliant should check with their state driver’s license agency.

TSA answers important REAL ID questions:

How Will This Keep Me Safer?

The REAL ID Act is designed to make everyone a little safer according to government officials. Its goal is to help eliminate airline terrorism by increasing requirements to get documents granting access to domestic planes. The cards themselves will come with new, built-in security that make them much harder to duplicate or forge.

What Do I Need If I’m a Maryland Resident?

To make your driver’s license or identification card Real ID complaint, typical required documents include:

  • Proof of age and identity, such as an original U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport
  • A Social Security Card, W-2 form (not more than 18 months old), or SSA-1099 form (not more than 18 months old)
  • Two proofs of Maryland physical address, such as vehicle registration, insurance card, bank statement, credit card or utility bill, or mail from a federal, state, or local government agency.

For a list of frequently asked questions:

Check REAL ID document status:

What Do I Need If I’m a Virginia Resident?

All applicants for a REAL ID compliant credential, including current Virginia credential holders, must apply in-person, pay a one-time $10 REAL ID surcharge plus standard fees. You also must provide physical documentation of:

  • Identity; (e.g. Unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate)
  • Legal Presence; (e.g. Unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate)
  • Social Security Number; and (e.g. Social Security card or W-2 form)
  • Residency (two proofs required). (e.g. utility bills, mortgage statements, Virginia driver’s license displaying current Virginia residential street address)
  • Proof of any name changes (e.g. marriage certificates or divorce decrees)

Helpful links:

What Do I Need If I’m a DC Resident?

To obtain a REAL ID driver license or learner permit in the District of Columbia, you must print and fill out the driver license/identification card application form. Next, you’ll need to bring your completed application form to a DC DMV service center. You must also bring documentation to prove you’re eligible for a driver license, including:

  • Proof of identity and age
  • Two documents that prove you reside in the District
  • Proof of your Social Security number
  • Proof of parental approval, for teens 16 or 17 years old
  • Proof of ability to drive
  • Medical/Eye form, if you have a medical condition indicated in the medical fitness section of the Driver License Application

Helpful Links:

What Now?

Because of the volume of people who need to be REAL ID compliant, you don’t want to wait until the last minute! If you’re a Maryland resident, make an appointment now so you can skip the line. Unfortunately, residents of Virginia and the District can’t schedule appointments, but you can try to get to your local DMV early and minimize your wait time.

Even though the deadline is more than a year away, now is the time to make sure you know the requirements and what you need. Doing so can help you avoid the last-minute rush long before October 1, 2020.

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