From May 7, 2025, state-issued ID and licence rules will be set to change for travel within the U.S. Travellers will be urged to check if their ID is valid and compliant with REAL ID regulations at their local state department of motor vehicles.

The countdown to REAL ID enforcement, as of today, stands at 592 days. Overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, REAlL ID readiness is about establishing minimal security standards for licence issuance and production and stopping federal agencies from accepting licences and identification cards that do not meet the Act’s standards.

Since 2013, the DHS has been working on a phased enforcement plan for REAL ID to align with the circulation of secure-only driver’s licences and identification documents, which it calls a “vital component of our national security framework”.

In accordance with the enforcement schedule, a key deadline is now being determined for 2025 where travellers who hold a state-issued ID or licence must adopt REAL ID measures.

On the DHS website, it says the REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, actioned recommendations following the events of 9/11 to set standards for the issuance of recognised ID, such as driving licences.

For domestic flights within the United States, driving licences are accepted over having to present a passport, but these familiar rules to Americans will change once REAL ID requirements are enforced in 2025. This news may leave some U.S. citizens flailing. What is the process for obtaining REAL ID?

The REAL ID is still an accepted standard for domestic travel and adopted by federal agencies, which is identified by the gold star emblem in the top right-hand corner of any driving licence or identification card.

Younger generations are less likely to be aware of what REAL ID is, but surveys suggested 78% have heard of the requirements for traditional IDs.

The deadline is pushing residents to visit their local DMV, with same-day REAL ID appointments made available by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

Patch.com reported that 34,500 appointments will be open to local residents in New Jersey, as well as 24 MVC service centers offering the same across other states.

Pre- verification has also been introduced to speed up face-to-face appointments by verifying the resident’s identity and personal information before they visit a REAL ID centre. 13 REAL centres are open in Pennsylvania.

After the deadline has passed, the DHS, TSA and federal agencies will not accept forms of traditional identification that do not comply with REAL ID. Traditional ID includes, a passport, birth certificate or social security card, for example, that can be accepted by REAL ID standards because they have advanced integrated security technologies and features.

The changes will only apply to adults flying domestically, and the necessity to travel with a passport on international flights remains unchanged.

Image source: Lindsey Nicholson | UCG | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

The conference agenda at Identity Week America 2023 includes The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The Transportation Security Administration, and federal agencies such as, Georgia Department of Driver Services, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and AAMVA

Speakers from these federal agencies that issue a state driving licence: 

  • Angelique McClendonGeneral Counsel, AAMVA/ Georgia Department of Driver Services
  • Owen McShaneDeputy CommissionerNYS DMV
  • Spencer R. MooreCommissionerGeorgia Department Of Driver Services
  • Christine NizerAdministratorMaryland Motor Vehicle Administration
  • George PetersenSenior Program Manager, REAL ID ProgramTSA, DHS
  • Mindy StephensManager, Identity ManagementAAMVA