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Will you need a REAL ID to fly in 2024?

(NEXSTAR) – Two years ago, U.S. travel requirements were set to undergo a massive shift: domestic flyers were finally — after multiple delays — going to need what is known as a REAL ID. 

But then, as so much was during the pandemic, the deadline got pushed back. And back again. 

It’s a new year though, so you may be wondering, “Will I actually need that REAL ID this year?”

The short answer is no, you will not need a REAL ID to fly in 2024, but there is still a deadline in place. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is a REAL ID?

A REAL ID, meaning a driver’s license or state identification card, contains a star stamp. That star can have multiple different appearances depending on your state — more on that in a moment.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a special commission recommended that the federal government enact certain minimum security standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards. In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act to do just that.

As part of the REAL ID Act, federal agencies, like TSA, are prohibited from accepting state-issued IDs that don’t meet the federal minimum standards, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This means that if you don’t have a REAL ID by the current federal deadline, you won’t be able to fly domestically, visit certain federal facilities, or enter a nuclear power plant.

When the REAL ID Act first passed, states required different types of documents to obtain a driver’s license, with some wanting more than others. Thankfully, all states now require, at minimum, that applicants provide the same information: proof of legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, legal residency, and two forms of your address.

When do I need a REAL ID?

Previously, the deadline was May 3, 2023. But roughly six months before that deadline, DHS extended it to May 7, 2025. It is worth noting that REAL ID-compliant documents are already required to enter some federal facilities. 

Once the deadline comes, anyone 18-years-old and older will require a REAL ID to pass through airports across the country. 

How to get a REAL ID

Luckily, you may already have a REAL ID. Many states have been issuing REAL IDs for years, meaning if you recently got or renewed your license, it’s likely REAL ID-compliant.

You can, in most cases, quickly tell if you have a REAL ID by checking the upper right-hand corner of your license or state-issued ID.

There should be a star of some sort. It will either be black or gold, a star or a cutout of a star, or a cut-out star in a bear if you live in California. This sample Kansas driver’s license, for example, has a gold circle with a white star cutout.

This image from the Kansas Department of Revenue shows a sample driver's license issued by the state's Division of Vehicles, first produced in June 2021. A new Kansas law will prevent transgender people from changing the listing for their sex on the license to match their gender identities. (Kansas Department of Revenue via AP)
This image from the Kansas Department of Revenue shows a sample driver’s license issued by the state’s Division of Vehicles, first produced in June 2021. (Kansas Department of Revenue via AP)

If your license or ID doesn’t have a star, it is still valid and you can still use it to fly until the 2025 deadline. Without a REAL ID, you’ll need another form like a valid passport or U.S. military ID. TSA lists other forms of ID that can also be used to board a plane, but only once the deadline has passed.

Those who opt out of getting a REAL ID will be issued licenses like the one pictured below, which has a “Federal Limits Apply” note in place of the star.

FILE – A sample copy of a Washington driver license is shown at the Washington state Department of Licensing office in Lacey, Wash., on June 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Ultimately, you’ll want to check with your local DMV to determine roughly how long it will take for your REAL ID to be available. If you have additional questions about REAL IDs, you can visit TSA’s website, DHS’s website, or contact your local DMV.

TSA lists other forms of ID that will also be accepted to board a plane when the time comes, like a passport or military ID.

Either way, you have well over a year to make sure you’re REAL ID-compliant.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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