REAL ID is a law and rule that establishes minimum standards for state-issued driver's licenses and personal identification cards. REAL ID compliant drivers licenses and ID cards will allow you to board a federally-regulated airplane, access a federal facility or a nuclear power plant.
The REAL ID Act of 2005, was passed by Congress to make it more difficult to fraudulently acquire a drivers license or ID card, as part of the effort to fight terrorism and reduce fraud.
REAL ID compliant licenses and ID cards must meet minimum standards which include
information and security features that must be incorporated into each card
proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status of an applicant
verification of the source documents provided by an applicant
security standards for the offices that issue licenses and identification cards
The 9/11 Commission endorsed the REAL ID requirements, noting that “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons … All but one of the 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of identification document, some by fraud. Acquisition of these forms of identification would have assisted them in boarding commercial flights, renting cars, and other necessary activities.”
REAL ID Next Steps
REAL ID goes into effect May 11, 2008. Recognizing states need more time to implement REAL ID, the department has offered states an extension to allow time to meet the requirements. States granted extensions.
If your state has been granted a REAL ID extension, your current driver's license is still a valid form of identification for boarding a federally-regulated airplane, accessing a federal facility or nuclear power plant.
If your state does not request a REAL ID extension by March 31, 2008, beginning May 11, 2008, you will not be able to use your state-issued driver's license or identification card for an official purpose, such as accessing a federal facility, boarding a federally-regulated commercial aircraft, or entering a nuclear power plant.
You can still present another form of acceptable identification such as a U.S. passport, military ID, or government identification badge.
If you do not have another form of acceptable documentation, you may experience delays at the airport due to the requirement for additional security screening.