On October 1, 2020, current driver’s licenses in 27 U.S. states will no longer be valid to board a domestic commercial airline flight in the U.S. California rolled out its Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses January 2, 2019. The new driver’s license costs $35 and a new identification card costs $30.

Both are available at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Although drivers in most cases can renew their licenses online, Real ID licenses require an in-person appearance at a DMV field office.

The Real ID Act of 2005 set requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses and other forms of ID that can be accepted by the federal government for official purposes. The act requires U.S. airline passengers to have a federally compliant Real ID license, passport or other federally accepted identification card.

The following explanation is from the Department of Homeland Security:

“Starting October 1, 2020, every state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID compliant license/ID, or another acceptable form of identification, for accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding commercial aircraft. This is what we call 'card-based' enforcement.

"The card, itself, must be REAL ID compliant unless the resident is using an alternative acceptable document such as a passport.

“The Act does not require individuals to present identification where it is not currently required to access a Federal facility (such as to enter the public areas of the Smithsonian) nor does it prohibit an agency from accepting other forms of identity documents other than documents from non-compliant states (such as a U.S. passport or passport card).”

Forty states and U.S. territories are currently in compliance.

The following 16 states and U.S. territories have been granted extensions:

  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • California
  • Guam
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Whether an individual’s state or U.S. territory is currently in compliance or has been granted an extension, travelers will not be able to pass airport security checkpoints after October 1, 2020, without the new form of ID, passport of other federally accepted identification.

Under the act, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not require children under the age of 18 to provide identification if traveling with an adult companion with the U.S. The companion will be required to present acceptable identification, however.

More information about the REAL ID Act, including an interactive map of the status in each state and territory, is available from the Department of Homeland Security.

A list of accepted forms of identification for travel is available on the website of the TSA.