In 2005 Congress passed the REAL ID Act to set minimum security standards for state-issued Driver’s License and Identification Cards. The REAL ID law was passed to increase security requirements to visit military bases, nuclear sites, federal facilities, and to fly. You can still drive and vote without the REAL ID, but your access to particular sites and transportation will be limited or eliminated.

The REAL ID mostly looks the same as the current license or ID issued by the State of North Carolina. The difference is that the REAL ID will have a little white star encased in gold; otherwise, your new license or id card will state “Not for Federal Identification.”

On October 1, 2020, TSA will begin requiring the REAL ID at airport security checkpoints. Hence, without a Driver’s License or Identification card with the white star or an alternate identification that complies with the REAL ID requirements, such as a passport, you will not be able to get through the security checkpoint to board an aircraft on or after October 1, 2020. You still have a year to get your new documents and you need to get them even if your current documents do not expire until after that date. In fact, it is important to apply for your new REAL ID license or ID before your current card expires.

You get your REAL ID driver’s license or ID card at the NC Division of Motor Vehicles. The worst time to go there is in the summer, so don’t wait to get this done. The best way to accomplish this is to call your local DMV office in advance for an appointment. An appointment may save you waiting in line an hour or more. If your license or id is expiring, you may make an appointment anytime within six months of your expiration date and get your renewal at the same time you meet the REAL ID requirements. It is important for you to take with you all the documentation required for the REAL ID or you will be turned away. There is no added fee and will cost the same as it would to renew your current license (or order a duplicate). It cannot be obtained by renewing your license online since additional documentation is required. That documentation includes proof of identity, date of birth, legal status, social security number, address, and proof of any name changes. See below for all the types of documentation that you must bring with you. Be sure your take everything you need to get your REAL ID when you go to DMV.