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What is a REAL ID?


If you’ve recently renewed your driver’s license, you may be familiar with the term “REAL ID.”  If not, we’ll fill you in. The federal government established REAL IDs — which will replace your current state-issued driver’s license —to meet a set of national minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. Beginning on October 1, 2020, TSA will require you to present a REAL ID to fly within the United States. Federal facilities, including military bases, will also require that you have a REAL ID to gain access. 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, REAL ID does not create a federal database of driver’s license information. Rather, REAL ID is a national set of standards to make identity documents more consistent and secure.   

In accordance with the REAL ID Act H.R. 1268, the minimum issuance standards set by the federal government require showing the following documentation to receive a REAL ID: 

  • A photo ID document, or a document showing the person’s full legal name and date of birth 

  • A document showing the person’s date of birth 

  • Proof of the person’s Social Security number or verification that the person is not eligible for a Social Security number 

  • Documentation showing the person’s name and address of principal residence 

  • Documentation showing the person is a citizen or national of the U.S. or is a legal alien or resident. 

PLEASE NOTE: You should bring certified or original source documents. If your legal name has changed, proof of name change may be required. Proof of residency documents should be recent. 

While the federal government has set minimum issuance standards, requirements vary from state to state. Please check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for a list of documents your state requires. If you need help finding this information or have questions, contact an AAFMAA Member Benefits representative at [email protected] or call 888-961-4573, Select Option 2, then Option 2 again.            

If you are a Veteran, be sure to bring a copy of your DD form 214 with you to the DMV. You are required to present this documentation to have your Veteran status included on your driver’s license.   

Read the full text of the law here.