Have you gotten your Real ID yet? Here’s everything you need to know

The deadline to obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card has been extended to May 2025.

If you’ve recently visited an airport, odds are you saw a “Real ID” poster while standing in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) line.

Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses or state IDs were supposed to be a new federal travel requirement starting in May 2023. However, last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a delay in the program following a nationwide backlog of applications because of the pandemic. 

“This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a press statement.

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The deadline to obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card has been extended to May 2025. (Photo: Getty Images)

Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Congress passed the Real ID law in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission determined that it was too easy for individuals to obtain a driver’s license. The Real ID’s anti-counterfeiting technology uses documentary evidence and records to verify that people are who they claim to be. 

However, the various delays, application requirements and language around the new policy have made the Real ID conversation really confusing. With a new enforcement date of May 7, 2025, the new system will not impact any of your immediate travel. But while there is still time to upgrade ID, it is important that everyone understands the requirements. Here’s a breakdown of everything we know so far. 

What is the difference between a “Real ID” card and a Real ID-compliant card? 

Real ID cards are marked with a little gold star to symbolize that they are made with the new anti-counterfeiting technology. 

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Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

However, you don’t necessarily need a star label to be Real ID-compliant. The states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington offer Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs) that are like Real ID cards with extra perks. 

What is an Enhanced Driver’s License? 

A state-issued enhanced driver’s license provides proof of identity and U.S. citizenship, while also making it easier to cross the border into certain countries and territories. EDL card holders can travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. 

Who will be required to have a Real ID-compliant ID? 

To put it simply, everyone. Starting May 7, 2025, every U.S. state and territory resident will be required to present a Real ID-compliant license/ID before boarding any domestic, commercial aircraft or accessing federal facilities.

Do all states offer Real ID-compliant documents? 

Yes! According to the DHS, all 50 states are fully compliant. 

How do I get a Real ID-compliant license/ID card? 

Just as you would procure a traditional ID: visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

The requirements vary from state to state, but the following are common requisites: 

  • Proof of citizenship (unexpired passport, birth certificate or social security card) 
  • Proof of state residence (copies of utility bills, W2 forms, credit card statements or mortgage statements are the most commonly accepted forms) 
  • If you’ve ever legally changed your name:
    • Marriage certificate
    • Court orders approving the legal name change or birth date 
    • Original or certified copy of an amended birth certificate showing a change of name 

How much does the Real ID cost?

There is no fixed price for Real ID-compliant cards. Costs vary from state to state and are approximately the same as renewing or obtaining a standard new license or ID. They range from $15 to $125 for a Real ID driver’s license and up to $74.50 for a non-driver ID card, according to Kelley Blue Book. Also, keep in mind that supplemental fees as well as administrative or processing fees may apply. For example, in Virginia, the Real ID fee is $10 in addition to the standard $32 renewal cost.

Still a bit confused? Visit www.dhs.gov/real-id to access a map linking you directly to your state’s Real-ID compliance page.

Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle reporter covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.

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