You'll be denied boarding on a plane without it or a passport
Updated: March 27, 2020
The federal requirements to have a "Real ID" compliant drivers license in order to board a plane or enter a federal building that requires an ID has been pushed back to October 1, 2021. The implementation date was delayed one year in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. After October 1, 2021, anyone who doesn't have a "REAL ID" compliant drivers license will need a passport, military ID, or a federal government PIV card, otherwise they will be denied boarding.
The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks. The start date has been pushed back several times to give states more time to come into compliance with the Acts requirements, but no more delays are expected.
"REAL ID" compliant drivers licenses are marked by a gold circle with a star inside on the upper right corner of the license. If your license doesn't have this gold star, you'll need to apply for a new license and supply the additional documentation required by the "REAL ID" Act.
Not all new drivers licenses issued by states are "REAL ID" compliant. States will continue to issue non-compliant licenses. So it is up to you to ensure you obtain a compliant license. To obtain a "REAL ID" compliant license, you must supply:
Don't be caught on October 1, 2021 without one or you'll be denied boarding on your flight unless you have a U.S. passport.
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Blog author. Former travel editor for Compete Magazine, awarded top 25 travel writing blog 2018 & 2019..