What is a REAL ID and why do we have to have one?

If you’re 18 or older and don’t have a star in the corner of your driver’s license or non-driver identification card, you might have a more difficult time traveling in the near future. Beginning October 1, 2020, everyone 18 or older flying domestically will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant license or another form of acceptable identification.

You might be asking, what is a REAL ID and why do we have to have one?

Following the events of September 11, 2001, U.S. Congress passed the REAL ID Act of 2005. The purpose of this act was to modify the laws about security, authentication, and issuance procedures for state driver licenses and non-driver license IDs.

To comply with the REAL ID Act, Alabama created the STAR (Secure, Trusted, And Reliable) ID program. STAR IDs are issued by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Driver License examining offices.

Due to the nature of this legislature, it is a bit more difficult to get a STAR ID than it is to get a regular driver or non-driver identification card.

In order to be issued a STAR ID, one must verify their identity, date of birth, social security number, and address by presenting 4 different official documents.

Each applicant must present one of the following forms of documentation to verify their identity and date of birth:

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. Passport
  • Certified Birth Certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Unexpired employment authorization document
  • Unexpired Permanent Resident Card
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship issued by DHS

*If your name has changed from what is written on these documents due to marriage, adoption, court order, etc. then official documents verifying the change will be required.

Each applicant must also present one of the following documents to verify their social security number:

  • Social Security card
  • United States Military Form DD 214
  • W-2 Tax Form

Finally, the applicant must present two of the following documents to verify their address:

  • Voter Registration Card
  • Residential Mortgage Contract
  • Current Lease Agreement
  • Previous year tax returns
  • Vehicle registration with applicant’s name and address
  • A utility bill from less than 90 days prior
  • School enrollment documentation
  • Current Homeowners insurance policy with name and address

If you’re traveling soon and don’t think you’ll be able to collect all the necessary documents in time, don’t worry. If you do not have a STAR ID or other REAL ID-compliant identification card, you can simply bring your passport and it will be checked just as it would be if you were flying internationally. However, we suggest that everyone begin the process of getting a STAR ID.

For more information about the REAL ID click here or for more information specifically about Alabama’s STAR ID click here.

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