That’s correct.  Only driver’s licenses that are real id’s will get us through TSA beginning October 2020.

How can you tell if your license is a real id?   Only those that have a gold circle with a star in the upper right corner are real ids.  The sample Kansas driver’s license shows you what the circle and star look like.

No big deal you say.  I have an entire year to figure out how to get that star added.

But adding that star is a whole lot more complicated getting a star in grade school.  You need to personally visit your Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with several forms of identification – some of which you may need to order if you lost cards or had a name change due to marriage, divorce, or adoption.

Children (“dependents”), non-citizens, and those who don’t have a social security card have different required documents.

Then, there’s a few other real ids that you may own that can get you through TSA instead of a real id driver’s license.

That’s why you need to be thinking about this now before the lines grow long at the DMV next year.

What You Need to Bring to the DMV

Most people will bring the following:

  • Original or certified copy of your birth certificate.
  • Your Social Security Card.
  • Present Driver’s License
  • A current utility bill or bank statement to show your address

In place of the birth certificate, you could use an unexpired passport or permanent resident card.  If your driver’s license has expired, you could use a second utility bill, bank statement or a voter’s registration card.  In place of a social security card, you could use a W-2 or 1099 form.

Consult your local state DMV’s for complete rules.  Here in Louisiana, visit this Express Lane site.

Several states, including Louisiana, give you the option of getting a real id or a driver’s license without one.  Remember if you renew your license by mail, you are not getting the real id version.

Are There Alternative Real Ids That Will Get You Through TSA?

Yes. Here’s a list of other common documents that will work:

  • Your unexpired passport
  • A Trusted Traveler or Border Crossing Card such as Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST
  • Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)
  • A Department of Defense ID, including those issued to dependents
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner credentials
  • HSPD-12 PIV card for federal employees and contractors
  • There are several other more unusual alternatives, see this Dept. of Homeland Security site for more information.So, if your driver’s license isn’t expiring in the next year or two, you don’t live in a state that is requiring you to take action, and you don’t mind traveling with one of these extra cards, you can postpone getting a real id driver’s license until next renewal. I prefer using my Global Entry “border crossing” card for my real id, as opposed to my passport, since it will fit in my wallet.You may be wondering why I have a border crossing card since I don’t live near Niagara Falls or San Diego.   It’s part of the Global Entry package that speeds entry through U.S. Customs and gets you into those fast TSA Pre-Check lines for every domestic and international flight.

    If you plan to do any international travel in the coming years, Global Entry is worth the price.  Read my article for all the reasons why you should consider Global Entry.   

    TSA screening lines are expected to slow down for a few months following Oct. 1, 2020 when the new rules are implemented.  Getting TSA Pre-Check may become even more valuable then.