WASHINGTON, D.C. — After the events of 9/11, Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, which set a new standard of U.S. drivers licenses, giving them a new level of identification and security when it comes to flying domestically, gaining access to federal government facilities and entering nuclear power plants.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, all 50 states in the U.S. were fully compliant with the Real ID requirements as of September.

This act, 14 years in the making, will be enforced beginning Oct. 1, 2020, meaning that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not allow individuals to fly unless they have a Real ID or other government-verified photo ID, even if they are in possession of a traditional driver’s license.

Real IDs are upgraded versions of drivers licenses or state-issued IDs with built-in minimum government security clearance. However, Real IDs cannot be used for international travel. To travel internationally, a passport will still be required.

Traveling domestically without a Real ID, after October 2020, will require a passport, passport card or Enhanced Driver’s License. For a full list of the acceptable alternative documents, visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.

“The Real ID is just like a traditional license or ID, but (it) includes a gold star at the top that proves one’s identity and residency records have been permanently stored with their NCDMV driving record,” said Binta Cisse from the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Documents that should be presented to the DMV prior to receiving a Real ID include one document that states legal presence and lawful status, such as a birth certificate, one document providing a Social Security number, such as a tax form or original Social Security card, and two documents proving one’s current physical address, such as bank statements or bills. Additionally, any name change documents, such as a marriage license, must be provided.

Cisse also included that individuals do not have to opt for a Real ID if they don’t travel by air domestically or enter federal agencies; a traditional driver’s license or other identity document is still valid in this case.

In North Carolina, Real IDs have been issued since May 2017.

To upgrade a traditional license or ID card to a Real ID, or to inquire about what specific documents are required call the local High Country DMVs: Watauga (828) 265-5384; Ashe (336) 846-5530; and Avery (828) 733-8284.

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