Does this affect my kids? What about an enhanced license? Answering your REAL ID questions

Here's everything you need to know before next October

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

You now have just more than one year to make sure you get your hands on a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of identification to fly within the United States.

Have no idea what we’re talking about? Get caught up and read our report from April: Got a gold star on your license? You'll need one to fly, starting next year.

Just to reiterate, starting Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID Act will go into full enforcement.

We thought we’d take this opportunity to address some questions.

So wait, what do I need to do?

Do you have a gold star on your license already?

If so, then you’re all set. Many states have been issuing REAL ID-ready driver's licenses and identity cards for several years without much fuss. You might not even realize that you already have the star. So check your purse or wallet!

If you don’t have the star ...

... and you want to fly within the U.S., then sometime between now and Oct. 1 of next year, you’ll need to go in person to your nearest Department of Motor Vehicles or secretary of state's office to get your REAL ID. And hey, this might sound obvious, but if your flight is on or around Oct. 1, you might want to play it safe and go a month or so earlier -- just to give it some time for your new license or ID card to arrive.

What if I don’t get the ID in time? Is there anything else I can use to board a flight?

Certainly. There are other acceptable forms of identification, such as a passport, a U.S. military ID or a state-enhanced driver's license.

Click or tap here to view a full list from the Transportation Security Administration.

Does this affect my kids?

Nope. The TSA does not require people younger than 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. The companion, however, will need to show acceptable identification.

A source on these answers, if you're curious or you'd like more information: This TSA website

Is the Department of Homeland Security trying to build a national database with all of our information?

We’ll let DHS answer this one: “No. REAL ID is a national set of standards -- not a national identification card. REAL ID does not create a federal database of driver’s license information. Each jurisdiction continues to issue its own unique license, maintains its own records, and controls who gets access to those records and under what circumstances. The purpose of REAL ID is to make our identity documents more consistent and secure.”

How does REAL ID implementation impact states that provide driver's licenses and IDs to certain undocumented immigrants?

Again, we’ll defer to DHS: “REAL ID allows compliant states to issue driver's licenses and identification cards where the identity of the applicant cannot be assured or for whom lawful presence is not determined. In fact, some states currently issue such noncompliant cards to undocumented individuals. These cards must clearly state on their face (and in the machine readable zone) that it is not acceptable for official purposes and must use a unique design or color to differentiate them from compliant cards.

"DHS cautions against assuming that possession of a noncompliant card indicates the holder is an undocumented individual, given that several states issue noncompliant licenses for reasons unrelated to lawful presence.”

A source on these answers, if you're curious or you'd like more information: This DHS website

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act complies with the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.”

And now you know.

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