What is a REAL ID and Why Do You Need One?

REAL IDUpdate March 26, 2020: Due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the national emergency declaration, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline from October 1, 2020, to October 1, 2021.

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, setting security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Beginning October 1, 2021, you will need a REAL ID-compliant credential or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the U.S.

What is a REAL ID?

In Virginia, you have the choice of getting a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, or a standard credential. They look very similar, although the REAL ID credential displays a star in the upper right corner. The standard driver’s license says “Federal Limits Apply” in the same space. It’s important to note that a REAL ID is not a substitute for a passport for international travel.

Currently, eight states are not yet in compliance with the required security standards: Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kentucky, Oklahoma, California, and Oregon. If they are not in compliance by the deadline, driver’s licenses from those states will not be valid for boarding domestic flights.

Do you need one to fly?

If you use your driver’s license to fly domestically or access secure federal facilities, effective October 1, 2021, you will need the REAL ID credential. Alternatively, you can use one of these other federally approved credentials:

  • U.S. passport or U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty, retired military, dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian driver’s license
  • Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)

If you use one of the above credentials, you do not need the REAL ID driver’s license.

You do not need a REAL ID to be licensed to drive, vote, or receive federal benefits. Health care and law enforcement do not require these credentials. For these purposes, a standard driver’s license is sufficient.

How do you get a REAL ID?

In Virginia, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues both standard and REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards. You’ll have to choose which one you want, as you cannot hold both. If you choose the REAL ID, you must appear in person and there is an additional $10 one-time fee. Travel Maestro tip: Save time by visiting the Virginia DMV locator to view real-time wait times by clicking on the location on the map.

Required documentation includes proof of identity (birth certificate, passport, etc.), and two proofs of Virginia residency (W-2, utility bills, etc.), and proof of Social Security Number. All documents must be originals. Find more document detail at www.dmvnow.com.

The Nevada DMV has compiled a list of compliant identification for all 50 states.

For all of your travel needs – business, meetings, or vacation – contact Covington Travel.

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