Why You Will Need a REAL ID

By Diane Hernandez
Real ID

I boarded a United Airlines Boeing 737-900 at the end of May. Three seats lined each side of the economy cabin, and as I struggled to find a place for my carry-on luggage, I looked around at the sleeping faces of other travelers.

Each of my fellow passengers provided a form of ID before boarding. I, myself, provided a passport to the TSA agent at the entrance of the airport gates. Others provided a driver’s license. What I depicted above is subject to change, however.

This change won’t affect the length of TSA lines — unfortunately, those will always be long — but this change will give your form of identification a fun makeover. If you’re planning on traveling any time after May of 2023, sit tight and listen hard before sipping on any imaginary pineapples. The REAL ID Act comes into effect next year. That means frequent travelers might need to update their forms of identification before kicking it at a beach in Punta Cana. Here’s what you should know.

In 2005, the REAL ID Act was passed to establish security standards after the 9/11 attacks. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) defines REAL ID as an effort to improve the integrity of state- issued ID cards, which will hopefully help reduce fraud and potential attacks on national security.

If you don’t have a REAL ID compliant form of identification after May 3, 2023, that flight to Bora Bora might become a distant “what if.” Luckily, it’s not too hard to know whether your license is compliant or not. REAL ID compliant licenses feature a yellow star and are difficult to imitate, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Some states already began distributing compliant licenses, too. In Florida, for example, FHSMV began to issue REAL IDs on January 4, 2010. So, if you’ve earned or updated a driver’s license after 2010, you should be good to go. However, this differs for each state.

If you don’t have a REAL ID — again, check for that yellow star — feel free to schedule an appointment at a driver license service center or tax collector office near you.

FHSMV requires one of the following primary documents to verify your identity:

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport
  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Permanent Resident CardOnce you’ve sorted this out, you can get back to planning that
  • European summer abroad trip and buying cute floral outfits to fit the mood.Safe travels!


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