Real ID Deadline 2025: The Clock Is Ticking, What You Need to Know


  • Travelers looking to board flights in the U.S. and enter federal facilities will be required to have a Real ID.
  • The most recent deadline put in place to have a Real ID is May 7, 2025. 
  • Here’s what travelers may want to know about this new form of identification. 
Real ID deadline - Real ID Deadline 2025: The Clock Is Ticking, What You Need to Know

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If you live in America and happen to love traveling around the world, then you should know by now that without a Real ID by 2025, you won’t be going anywhere.

The Real ID, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, is a compliance ID part of the 2005 act by Congress to establish “minimum security standards for ID distribution,” including driver’s licenses. Initially, the said ID was set to be put in place in 2020. But as the pandemic hit the world, it was postponed, until its recent reinstatement.

The DHS has just announced that a Real ID will be necessary for travelers. Earlier this week it started the registration and application for the ID, and the latest deadline is set for May 7, 2025. 

With only less than a year left until the DHS makes the Real ID a top requirement for domestic flights and federal facilities, we have compiled all the necessary details for individuals who will apply for the ID.

Starting May 7, 2025, the Real ID will take effect and will become mandatory for domestic flights. Here’s what you need to know and how to get one.

Is the Real ID Necessary?

The DHS says that U.S. travelers now need to have a Real ID to continue traveling domestically and access restricted federal locations. 

An individual traveling within the country will need one form of identification. That can either be the following:

  • Real ID
  • Passport
  • Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs)

Keep in mind that most EDLs did not have the star marking, but they were still acceptable.

Travelers with either a passport or EDL don’t need to get the Read ID card right away — although it is encouraged.

TSA-approved IDs accepted are U.S. passports, U.S. passport cards, DHS trusted traveler cards, U.S. Department of Defense IDs (including IDs issued to dependents), permanent resident cards, border crossing card, an acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe, HSPD-12 PIV card, Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card, foreign government-issued passport, transportation worker identification credential, U.S. citizenship immigration services employment authorization card (766), U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential and Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC).

However, for those without another accepted ID who plan to travel domestically soon, obtaining a Real ID is advisable. But keep in mind that it does not replace a passport for international travel. 

The TSA and other Federal agencies require Real ID-compliant state-issued IDs to access such facilities. But, in some states like Michigan, New York, Washington, Minnesota and Vermont, they will accept the listed Real ID alternatives.

What Is the Real ID For?

As recommended by the 9/11 Commission, Congress enacted the Real ID in 2005 to establish federal standards in identification issuance. The act also determines acceptable IDs for all domestic travel and restricted federal locations like courthouses and military bases.

It’s important to remember that the main use of the Real ID is for boarding domestic flights and accessing restricted federal facilities. However, these cards cannot be used for international travel to places like Canada or Mexico, according to DHS regulations.

What Are the Requirements?

As of 2021, DHS no longer mandates states to collect a social security document from Real ID applicants, though they still need to gather and retain the number for verification with the Social Security Administration. However, implementation varies by state, so individuals should verify requirements with their local driver’s licensing agency.

For instance, in California, residents can apply online, upload documents and then visit a DMV office for a brief in-person session. California residents had to provide proof of identity, such as a passport or birth certificate, along with legal name change documents if necessary, like a marriage certificate. They also needed two paper copies of proofs of residency, like a utility bill, and their Social Security number, with exceptions possible.

In Illinois, Real ID cards for applicants aged 65 or older expire after 8 years, while others are valid for the standard period. It’s best to contact your local DMV office to determine the validity period of your Real ID.

Bottom Line

In about one year, the DHS will start enforcing the Real ID requirement for domestic flights and certain federal facilities. Federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, will only accept state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards from Real ID-compliant states for access to federal facilities and TSA checkpoints. Enhanced driver’s licenses from Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Vermont will be considered as acceptable alternatives, according to DHS.

On the date of publication, Chris MacDonald did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Chris MacDonald’s love for investing led him to pursue an MBA in Finance and take on a number of management roles in corporate finance and venture capital over the past 15 years. His experience as a financial analyst in the past, coupled with his fervor for finding undervalued growth opportunities, contribute to his conservative, long-term investing perspective.

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