Real ID conversion has 2025 deadline; what you need to do before next May

A graphic showing an old and new license.

The deadline for all licenses be Real ID-compliant is slowly approaching.

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The federally mandated change goes into effect on May 7, 2025, after being delayed in 2022. Originally, everyone with licenses or identification cards had to “meet the security standards established by the REAL ID Act” by May 3, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security said. But the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the federal agency, prevented some people from getting the new identification cards after backlogs piled up during the shutdown.

The REAL ID-compliant cards, enhanced driver’s licenses or other TSA-acceptable forms of identification will be required for anyone over the age of 18 to pass through airport security starting on May 7, 2025, the DHS said.

The enhanced identification cards are also used to enter some federal facilities and even nuclear power plants, Homeland Security said.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission recommended new anti-counterfeiting measures and record checks, among other safeguards, making sure that the person with the ID card is the person they claim to be.

How can you tell if your license or ID card is REAL ID-compliant?

The card should have a star and/or a flag on it or say “enhanced.” If it has the markings, then you’re good to go. If not, then you have to visit your local department of motor vehicles to get a new license or card. If you have a passport, that is also an acceptable form of identification to show at security checkpoints.

To find out if you have the proper documentation to fly, you can visit the DHS’s website to check. To find your state’s DMV, the DHS has a website set up to help.

What documents do you need to apply for a REAL ID?

According to the DHS, you will need at minimum documentation showing:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number

You will also need two proofs of address for your principal residence and your lawful status, meaning whether you are a citizen or national of the U.S., or lawfully admitted to the country.

Keep in mind your state may have additional requirements, so you should check with your DMV to see what else may be required.

Real ID infographic
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