Updated Thursday, March 26, 2020

Mark your calendars, Americans: As of Oct. 1, 2021, all domestic travelers will be required to have REAL ID-compliant identification (or an approved alternative such as a U.S. passport) in order to board commercial flights. In other words, your traditional driver’s license or state ID will not suffice, you will not be permitted through the security checkpoint, and you will not be able to fly. (Note: The deadline was previously Oct. 1, 2020, until a new date was announced by the Department of Homeland Security on March 26 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.) 

REAL ID–compliant cards are generally marked with a star in the upper portion of the card. The style of the star will vary depending on the state and it’s best to check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to determine if your license is compliant.

It’s also a good idea to visit your state’s driver’s licensing agency website to find out exactly what documentation is required to obtain a REAL ID. At a minimum, you must 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 check before visiting them in person.

For detailed information about acquiring a REAL ID–compliant card in your state, go to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s REAL ID page or visit the U.S. Travel Association’s REAL ID fact sheet.

Remember, come October 2021: Without the star, you won’t go far.