Does Your ID Have a Star? How to Know If Your State Is Real ID Compliant

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Does your ID have a star? How to know if your state is Real ID compliant
Image Credit: Dept. of Homeland Security

Starting October 1, 2020, U.S. travelers who are age 18 and up and don’t have a Real ID driver’s license or another  piece of compliant identification won’t be permitted to fly.

If you’re unsure whether your identification card is Real ID-compliant, here’s how to know: It generally has a star in the top right corner.

Does Your License Have a Star? Here’s What a Real ID Looks Like

Many new IDs have a gold or a black star, or some variation of that. Here are some examples of the star looks like and what types are acceptable, according to TSA’s website:

Photo credit: Department of Homeland Security

A handful of states and U.S. territories have a little more time to fall in line with new identification rules set by the government. If they don’t, residents who live there may be unable to fly on domestic flights without a passport.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun an awareness campaign to let travelers know that they have months before the new ID rules apply nationwide. If you haven’t seen the signs posted at an airport near you yet, they will soon be everywhere.

These States and Territories Must Comply With New ID Rules Soon

American citizens will need the Real IDs for official functions like domestic air travel and entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants. A passport will still be required for travel abroad.

The agency initially imposed a deadline of October 2018 for enforcing the new ID rules, but since many states didn’t adhere to the rules, an extension was granted.

Here are the states and territories still non-compliant with Real ID requirements, according to the Department of Homeland Security as November 2019:

Non-Compliant Jurisdiction Extension Status
American Samoa Under review
New Jersey Under review
North Marianas Islands February 28, 2020
Oklahoma September 18, 2020
Oregon August 7, 2020


What Does Real ID Compliant Mean?

A compliant identification consists of either a photo ID or an ID with your complete name, birth date, signature, eye color, gender and anti-counterfeiting technology, among other things.

Inspired by recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, the REAL ID Act was signed into law by President Bush in 2005. The law prompted a mass crackdown on fake IDs and mandated that all states and territories enact stricter standards before issuing IDs.

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New technology was rolled out that made it harder for criminals to trick the system and mimic ID cards. The new rules also meant that Americans needed more proof of identity — such as original birth certificates — when applying for the cards.

Since then, most states have complied with the new ID rules, but several have dragged their feet for various reasons ranging from privacy concerns to budgeting issues.

Is the Government Using REAL ID to Create a National Database?

One of the main criticisms about the new ID requirement is that many people see it as the government’s attempt to use Americans’ personal information to create a national database that could be used for nefarious reasons. This is what Homeland Security says about that assertion:

“REAL ID is a national set of standards, not a national identification card. REAL ID does not create a federal database of driver 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.”

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