Travelers have less than 1 year before deadline to obtain REAL ID cards

If you've had to catch a flight recently, you may have started to notice signs informing travelers that they'll be required to show what's called a REAL ID-compliant driver's license to fly within the United States.

It looks similar to a regular driver's license, but a few small changes are necessary to fly or enter federal facilities, starting October 1, 2020.

If you don't have a REAL ID by the deadline, you'll need another acceptable form of ID, such as a valid passport, in order to fly.

"States have been working on this for several years, dating back to 2006, 2007," said Mark Howell, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

A REAL ID is designed to be tougher to forge. It was recommended by the 9/11 commission.

Depending on the state, the card has a gold star or black star in the corner, which is easily spotted by TSA agents. It indicates the traveler is REAL ID-compliant.

"We want to make sure that those security features are there so we know the folks getting on airplanes are who they are," Howell said.

To obtain a REAL ID, applicants must provide one document proving identity, one document proving their social security number, two documents proving residency and one document proving a signature. Specific requirements may vary by state. Check with your state's driver's license agency for specific documents needed.

The process must be completed in person at a Department of Motor Vehicles.

"If it's necessary, then I just need to go get it done," said Dane Jordan, a traveler. "If I have to stand in line at the DMV, I'd rather get it out of the way."

Traveler Nancy Reinhard said, "If it makes us safer, then absolutely, I don't mind doing it."
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