It Might Be Time for a New Driver's License

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Make sure your ID meets requirements for air travel.


The Department of Homeland Security is implementing the final phase of the 2005 REAL ID Act, which establishes stricter standards for state-issued forms of identification. But don’t stress too much about it. When you go through airport security, the Transportation Security Administration will continue to accept most state-issued driver’s licenses as valid forms of ID until the law is fully implemented in October 2020—or until your driver’s license comes up for renewal.

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If your current driver’s license doesn’t have a gold or silver star located in the right-hand corner, you will probably have to make a trip to your Department of Motor Vehicles or other state agency that issues IDs when it’s time to renew it. You’ll need to bring original copies of your Social Security card, proof of residency, birth certificate or passport, and other documents verifying identity.

Read your renewal notice carefully. Some states list REAL ID–compliant licenses as an option, but not a requirement, when renewing, so make sure you’re getting the right license for air travel. Consider springing for a passport if you don’t already have one to avoid confusion when flying; the cost is $135 for first-time adult applicants. For other forms of acceptable ID, go to www.tsa.gov and type “identification” in the search bar.

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