If you watch TV, listen to the news or read the newspaper, you have more than likely heard about the REAL ID Act. So, what is the REAL ID Act and why did it come into place? This law was passed by Congress in 2005 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, in hopes of establishing minimum standards for driver’s licenses and ID cards. The idea is that it will prevent identity theft and increase national safety. In an effort to have more consistency in compliance throughout the states, the Department of Homeland Security or DHS coordinated an effort by the states and Federal Government to decrease the use of fraudulent identifications. One of the recommendations that came from the 9/11 Commission was to encourage the federal government to set standards for issuance of sources of identification including the driver’s license. The whole idea is that at TSA check points at the airport or when entering a federal building, the reliability, accuracy, and readability of the driver’s license would lead to less threats.
So how does this affect you? For travelers, it means that starting October 1, 2020, anyone who resides in the United States, even if they’re flying domestically or to U. S. territories, will need a REAL ID identification to pass through TSA security checkpoints at airports. The federal government will require your driver license or identification card to be REAL ID compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic flight or to enter secure federal facilities that require identification.
But what is the difference between your current driver’s license and a REAL ID driver’s license? A REAL ID driver’s license contains “machine-readable technology” that your current driver’s license does not contain. All state’s driver’s license will have a star in a gold circle printed on it.
Each state will still issue a driver’s license that will have the state branding. Therefore, if you feel you do not need a REAL ID driver’s license, if you know you will not be boarding a domestic flight or visiting a secure federal facility, such as a military base or if you will be using other approved documents as your domestic travel identification (such as a passport book or passport card), the REAL ID card is not required. If you don’t choose to get a REAL ID license, you will receive a Federal Non-Compliant Card with the phrase “Federal Limits Apply.” Those under 18 are not required to have a REAL ID card to fly domestically. If they are flying internationally, both the U.S. passport card and the U.S. passport book are REAL ID compliant.
So, what does this mean for those of you that live in Illinois? Illinois was granted an extension for REAL ID enforcement until June 1, 2019 and have successfully complied. As of April 1, 2019, the Illinois DMV now offers federal compliant REAL ID driver licenses or identification cards.
If you want to see where your state stands on REAL ID compliance, the DHS’s (Homeland Security) website is where you need to go - https://www.dhs.gov/real-id. I encourage everyone to visit this website to learn as much as you can about the REAL ID Act and to assist you in being ready for the October 1, 2020 deadline.
So, in summary, unless the government grants another extension, travelers will need to be prepared. 2020 is coming sooner than you think!! Happy travels!