Heads Up: You've Got 6 Months to Get a Real ID to Fly Domestically
real id to fly

Heads Up: You’ve Got 6 Months to Get a Real ID to Fly Domestically

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For more information check out our Advertising Disclosure.

From wearing masks to scaled-back service, plenty has changed in air travel in the last year due to the pandemic. But one more big change is coming this fall: You’ll need a new, federally approved driver’s license called a Real ID for any domestic flight.

Barring another extension, these new Real ID requirements are currently set to go live Oct. 1, 2021. These are a new form of ID with some extra hoops to jump through when applying for or renewing a driver’s license to prove your identity. They stem from a 2005 federal law meant to combat terrorism and identity fraud after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Real ID requirements for domestic flights have been looming for years, but they’ve been constantly pushed back as many states resisted falling in line. Just last year, that deadline was pushed back from a year October 2020 to 2021. But now, another extension seems unlikely.

With just six months to go, it’s worth getting your Real ID sooner rather than later. These new IDs have been available in many states for almost a decade, while others – like Minnesota, California, and Oregon – took far longer to get on board and start issuing the new licenses. But these are now available in every state across the nation, and you’ll need them (or a Real ID alternative!) to board any domestic flight as of Oct. 1, 2021.

Who Needs a Real ID to Fly

In a word? Everyone.

The Department of Homeland Security makes it clear: Once these new requirements take effect, you won’t be able to get into the airport without one. Read up on more frequently asked questions about Real ID on the DHS site.

The only exception is the same one that exists for IDs today: Children under 18 who are traveling with an adult companion will not need to present a Real ID at the airport.


How to Get a Real ID to Fly

Today, you can get a Real ID-compliant license from your local DMV in every state.

The cost of getting a Real ID will vary state by state. Some states have reduced the costs to renew an older license if it expires after the full Real ID requirements take effect next fall. These new IDs are almost identical the standard driver’s license you’re using today – they’ve simply got a golden star, denoting that they’re approved for federal use.

Real ID to fly 

And while you simply go to your local DMV as usual, applying for a new, compliant license is a bit different. Namely, you need to provide some extra documentation.


  • One document proving your identity, like a valid passport or certified birth certificate.
  • One document with your Social Security number, like your Social Security card or a federal W-2 form.
  • Two documents proving your current address, like a valid driver’s license, a canceled check, or utility company or bank statements issued within the last 90 days.


More than 150 million Americans nationwide have already received a Real ID, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

If you live in Minnesota, there’s an even easier option. Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) airport set up a first-of-its-kind application center right inside the airport. Just set up an appointment and knock out your application before or after your next flight.

Of course, you may not need a Real ID after all. You could use a passport to board domestic flights – then you wouldn’t need a Real ID. You’ll still need that passport for any international journey, after all. And if you’ve got Global Entry, your Global Entry card will work as well.

Read more on the alternatives you can keep using instead of getting a Real ID.


Bottom Line

Like it or not, Real ID is coming. As of now, those requirements to fly domestically are set to take effect Oct. 1, 2021.

Make sure you’ve got your Real ID handy, get the process started, or have an alternative lined up come October. If you don’t, you won’t be getting through airport security.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

8 Responses

  • You will need a Real ID, regardless if you travel domestic with your passport or not? So no one will be able to fly without a Real ID at all? Just need some clarification. Thanks!

  • Fact Check: FALSE!
    You can fly with zero ID at all. In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification, because it is lost or at home, you may still be allowed to fly. The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint. You will be subject to additional screening, to include a patdown and screening of carry-on property.

  • Don’t care about real I’d. I have passport but are we going to talk about a health passport for international travel?

    • 😡 The “health” passports are taking this too far! We all should be calling the airlines and hotels about this push to force everyone into toxic and experimental compliance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *