REAL ID is Coming!

What every traveler needs to know.

Whether you are heading on a WorldStrides trip next year or you promised to fly to your besties during winter break, mark October 1, 2020, on your calendar and put getting your REAL ID on the top of your to-do list!

What is the REAL ID? 

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act which “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” In other words, instead of each state having differing ID requirements, there is now a nationwide standard on all state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs.

What does this mean for you? The act also prevents U.S. Federal agencies (Read: Transportation Security Authority or TSA) from accepting licenses and identification cards that don’t meet these new standards starting October 1, 2020.

So basically, on October 1, 2020, travelers over 18 years of age will need a REAL ID to board any domestic commercial flight.

Who needs a REAL ID?

Every resident of the U.S. and U.S. territories over the age of 18 will need to present a REAL ID license to board any commercial flight beginning on October 1, 2020. 

Do minors need a REAL ID?

Nope. Just like today, people under the age of 18 will not be required to present any ID to fly domestically. However, accompanying adults are required to present their REAL ID to board a domestic commercial flight. And if you are a minor, when you are ready to get an ID, it would be smart to make sure it’s a REAL ID!

Do I need a REAL ID to travel internationally? 

No. All residents, no matter of age, are required to have a passport to travel internationally. This is a substitute for a REAL ID. You won’t need a REAL ID if you have a passport.

Where do I get a REAL ID? 

REAL IDs are issued by your local department of motor vehicles.        

Is my current driver’s license a REAL ID?

Maybe?! Many states have already been issuing REAL ID driver’s licenses. A REAL ID card will include the REAL ID “star” marking in the top corner. Check out the examples below:


What do I need to get a REAL ID?

The new standards require more documents than the regular ID did, and include proof of your identity, social security number, and residency to your local motor vehicle department. Eligible documents include:

Proof of Identity: 

· Original U.S birth certificate, unexpired passport, Naturalization or Certificate of U.S. Citizenship

Proof of Social Security: 

· Social security card, W-2 form, paystub

Two Proofs of Residency:

· Rental agreement or deed; Mortgage, utility bills; school or tax documents

We recommend checking your state’s DMV website for detailed descriptions of what you need. Read carefully! If you don’t have what you need, they send you back to gather those documents.

How long does it take to get a REAL ID?

Depends. If you have all your supporting documents, you can have your REAL ID within one visit to your department of motor vehicles. Some states allow you to start the application online, making it even easier. Visit your state or territory’s license authority for detailed timelines.  

October 1, 2020 will be here before you know it! Get your REAL ID sooner rather than later. Your WorldStrides trip (or maybe your bestie) await! 

Article written by Dorothea Henry

Dorothea Henry
Dorothea love to uncover interesting and helpful finds for travelers everywhere. Sharing insights and information across websites and social channels are her love languages. She finds adventures near and far with her husband, three sons, and Texas Heeler.