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  • Writer's pictureJarbath Peña Law Group PA

The Real ID Goes into Effect Soon for Airline Travel

A new TSA requirement goes into effect for all airline travel on March 1, 2023. It requires the traveler to have a driver’s license or state ID that is Real ID certified. This new certification is one of the recommendations that came out of the 9/11 committee after the attacks on the World Trade Center.

The existence of large variations among each state’s standards for issuing driver’s licenses led to the 9/11 attackers’ ability to obtain fraudulent identification. These fraudulent IDs allowed them to board the ill-fated airplanes. The Real ID Act of 2005 resulted from the 9/11 committee’s recommendations. The implementation of the federal government standard for all states rectifies this variance — and makes the Real ID a more secure form of documentation.

What Exactly Is the Real ID?

A Real ID is a state-issued driver’s license or ID that requires additional documentation when renewing your driver’s license or state ID card. The new license now includes a star in the upper right corner. This star may be either gold or black and might be a star cutout in a gold or black circle. If you get a California driver’s license, it is a star cutout inside a gold grizzly bear.

When Does the Real ID Go into Effect?

Unless you have already tried to get access to a government facility, you may not have noticed that the Real IDs have been in use since April 21, 2014. Since that date, people haven’t been able to get into government-restricted areas and the DHS headquarters in Washington without a Real ID. As of July 21, 2014, you needed such an ID to get into federal facilities and nuclear power plants. The government will require a Real ID to board any commercial airliner as of March 3, 2023. This date was originally set for October 1, 2020, but the COVID pandemic caused the deadline to be moved to 2023.

What Does This Mean If I Want to Travel?

As of May 3, 2023, all travelers from the U.S. who want to fly domestically or internationally must present a driver’s license or state ID card that is considered Real ID compliant (i.e., has the star in the upper right corner). This does not apply to kids under 18 who are traveling domestically with an adult. Suppose you do not have Real ID-compliant identification. In that case, you will need another acceptable form of ID such as a permanent resident card, valid passport, or DHS trusted traveler program card from organizations such as Nexus or Global Entry.

What Documentation Do I Need to Bring to the DMV?

You can no longer renew your driver’s license or state ID online and receive a Real ID. You have to go to the DMV in person. Each state has its own online DMV portal that explains the procedures and documentation you will need to bring into the DMV to get your Real ID. For example, in the State of Florida, you need to bring one of the primary documents in the list below to establish your identity, proof of legal residence, and date of birth.

U.S. Citizens Primary Identification

U.S. Citizens need a:

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport;

  • Certified or original copy of their birth certificate;

  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad;

  • Certificate of Naturalization issued by the DHS; or

  • Certificate of Citizenship.

For cases where the current name and the name on the primary identity document are different, you should also bring a:

  • Court-ordered name change document;

  • Marriage certificate, issued by the courts; and/or

  • Divorce decree issued by the courts.

In all cases, the document must show a clear trail of name changes from the birth name to the current name.

Immigrant Primary Identification

An immigrant needs to bring one of the following with your complete name:

  • A valid green card—otherwise known as an alien registration receipt card or Form I-551;

  • I-551 stamp in passport or on I-94;

  • An order from an immigration judge that includes your A-number (admissions number), granting asylum;

  • Form I-797 that states you have been granted asylum and includes your A-number; or

  • Form I-797, or another form from (USCIS) that includes your A-number, stating approval for your application for refugee status.

If your name has changed through marriage or divorce, you must have your name changed on your Citizen and Immigration Services (CIS) documents.

Non-Immigrant Primary Identification

Non-immigrants must bring one of the following with their complete name:

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form I-688B or I-766—valid employment authorization card;

  • Current proof of non-immigrant classification provided by DHS form I-94 with required supporting attachment). I-94s must be accompanied by a valid passport with a date of entry stamp. Certain classifications require additional documentation listed on the FLHSMV website.

  • Accepted parole letter—Form I-512;

  • Travel document/refugee travel permit—Form I-571; or

  • An order from an immigration judge canceling removal or granting asylum.

Please see the FLHSMV website for more specific information.

Secondary Identification for Everybody

The items listed above would count as your primary identification for the purposes of obtaining your Real ID. However, the requirements do not end there. Both citizens and non-citizens also need to bring proof of social security and proof of residential address. A list of these kinds of documents and more specifics can be found on Florida’s What to Bring page.

Must I Get a Real ID?

You likely don’t need one. No one likes going to the DMV, so it’s understandable if you’d like to avoid that and the unpleasant task of gathering documents. Until your license is up for renewal, it is very tempting to keep your regular license.

As long as you have a passport or other TSA-approved identification, you will still be allowed to board commercial aircraft with a regular driver’s license. However, if you do not have a passport or need regular access to nuclear power plants, federal courthouses, military bases, the White House, or other federally secured areas — it would be to your advantage to get one.

We’re Here for You!

At The Jarbath Peña Law Group, we are here to help you in any area of immigration law, no matter what your needs are. We are your South Florida immigration attorneys who have the answers you need. So contact us today! You can set up your free initial consultation today by calling 305-615-1005 or through our online contact form. We look forward to serving you!

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