Real ID: What is it, exactly? It is an identification card that meets minimum standards for proof of identity and residency set forth by the Department of Homeland Security and bears a gold star in the corner.

For many people, it will be a driver’s license that meets the extra requirements; people without driver’s licenses can get state ID cards that comply with the Real ID requirements. A Real ID can be used for boarding domestic flights and entering military bases and other federal buildings.

Travelers without a Real ID will need a passport, passport card or Enhanced ID to board any domestic flight, starting in October.

What is Enhanced ID? It’s a Real ID that also acts as a “mini passport,” allowing travelers to re-enter the United States by land or sea from Mexico, Canada and some Caribbean countries. It is marked with an American flag. An Enhanced ID cannot be used for international air travel.

Who needs a Real ID or Enhanced ID? It depends on where people go and what other identification documents they have. Anyone 18 or older will need a Real or Enhanced ID — or a passport or a passport card — to board a domestic flight or visit a federal facility starting in October 2020. Travelers who are under 18 do not need the new ID cards.

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What documents are needed? Applicants must bring one document to prove their identity and date of birth. Acceptable documents include an unexpired passport, a certified copy of a birth certificate or a certificate of citizenship. Applicants must also show proof of having a Social Security number by presenting a Social Security card, a W2 form showing taxes withheld from a paycheck for the current year, or a pay stub with name, address and Social Security number.

To prove Minnesota residency, applicants must show two documents, such as an unexpired Minnesota driver’s license, a credit card or bank account statement less than 90 days old, or a federal or state income tax return from the most recent filing year.

When will REAL ID be enforced? The final enforcement deadline is October 1, 2020. By this date, not only must all states be issuing Real ID-compliant licenses or IDs, but individuals must also have visited their state’s driver’s licensing agency and obtained a REAL ID compliant card, or acceptable alternative such as a U.S. passport, if they wish to fly on commercial aircrafts or access federal facility.

How do I know if my license or identification card is REAL ID compliant? REAL ID-compliant cards will have of one of the following markings on the upper top portion of the card. If the card does not have one of these markings, it is not REAL ID-compliant and won’t be accepted as proof of identity in order to board commercial aircraft.

This article is made possible with Older Americans Act dollars from Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging. The Senior LinkAge Line® makes it easy for older adults and their families to find services in their community. Call 1-800-333-2433 to speak with an information specialist. The Senior LinkAge Line® is the Minnesota Board on Aging's free statewide information and assistance service. The Senior LinkAge Line® service is provided by six Area Agencies on Aging that cover all 87 counties of Minnesota and helps connect you to local services.