Americans will need Real ID to travel in 2025

Starting May 7, 2025, Americans will need Real ID to board airplanes and enter federal buildings.
People walk to board their flights Oct. 30 inside the new satellite concourse at Nashville
People walk to board their flights Oct. 30 inside the new satellite concourse at Nashville / Nicole Hester / The Tennessean / USA

In 2025, Americans will need Real ID for all domestic flights and entering all federal facilities. This is a mandate issued by the Department of Homeland Security and will be required for all travelers looking to take to the skies.

Congress passed the federal Real ID act back in 2005 as a response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. The initial implementation was delayed thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic. This was a series of steps meant to standardize sources of identification, such as a state issued ID, or a diver’s license.

The entire United States and its territories are issuing Real ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards obtained at DMVs. To obtain one, you’ll have to visit your local DMV with the proper identification documentation which shows your full legal name, date of birth, Social Security Number, two proofs of address/residence, and your lawful status as a United States citizen. Check your local DMV website for details on which documentation can be used to fulfil those obligations. There is some variety across states to complete the process.

The requirements for Real ID are expected to be in place by May 7, 2025. After that date, travelers will no longer be able to board a plane without the right type of identification. Real IDs look nearly identical to current IDs, but they have the complaint marking to stand out for those checking. For example, Californica uses a golden bear with a star in the top right corner of its ID cards.

International travelers and American travelers looking to travel internationally can still use a valid passport for boarding.

For more information, visit the Real ID website for additional details.