Are you ready for REAL ID?

Beginning May 7, 2025, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or driver's license as your identification when you fly within the U.S., it will need to be REAL ID compliant or you won't be allowed through TSA airport security checkpoints, so it's important to plan ahead.

If you're not sure if your ID complies with the new Department of Homeland Security requirements, check with your state's department of motor vehicles. Acceptable IDs will either have a REAL ID-compliant star marking at the top of the card, or the marking of one of the states that offers Enhanced Driver's Licenses (EDL): Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont.

Each state's driver's licensing agency has its own requirements for issuing compliant ID, but at a minimum, you'll need to provide documentation showing: 1) Full Legal Name; 2) Date of Birth; 3) Social Security Number; 4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence and; 5) Lawful Status. States may impose additional requirements, so log onto your state's driver's licensing agency for a complete list before visiting them in person.

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion (who has REAL ID compliant identification) within the United States. If children are traveling alone, an adult should escort them to the Travel Document Checker (TDC) and the adult should provide identification and inform the TDC that they are traveling alone.

Other (non-driver's license) forms of identity will continue to be acceptable, including a passport or U.S. passport card, DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST), U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents, permanent resident card, border crossing card, and an acceptable photo ID issued by a Federal Register. For the complete list of acceptable forms of identification and more information about REAL ID, visit REAL ID | Transportation Security Administration (

By Geri Bain, freelance travel writer & editor


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