Real ID Will Go Into Effect One Year from Now — How to Get One

"Are you REAL ID ready?" the DHS tweeted on Tuesday.

This time next year, travelers will need something extra to get through airport security: a REAL ID.

The enhanced state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards, which typically feature a star in the upper portion of the ID, will be required to pass through airport security for all travelers 18 years old and older starting one year from now on May 3, 2023, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The implementation deadline for the REAL ID — which was first slated to go into effect in the fall of 2020 — has been extended several times due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alternatively, travelers who don't have the enhanced license will still be able to pass through airport security by using a government-issued passport.

"REAL ID is coming in 2023! Are you REAL ID ready?" DHS tweeted on Tuesday, a year to the day before the deadline goes into effect.

A TSA Agent checks the ID's of passengers as they pass through a security checkpoint on the way to their flights at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia
SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

To obtain a REAL ID, travelers must visit their local DMV for an in-person meeting and provide at least their social security number, two forms of proof of address, and proof of their lawful status. To expedite the process, DHS has said it would allow people to submit proof of their identity online first to start the application, but that does not replace the in-person visit.

Last year, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the extension "will give states needed time to reopen their driver's licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card."

Currently, all 50 states and several United States territories are "fully compliant with the REAL ID requirements," according to DHS.

When the enhanced ID goes into effect, it will be required to pass through airport security, access certain federal facilities, and enter nuclear power plants, but it will not be required to enter other federal places like the Smithsonian museums.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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