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No One Is Ready for the REAL ID Transition

No One Is Ready for the REAL ID Transition
Jennifer Billock

If you haven’t gotten a REAL ID yet, now is the time. The deadline, October 1, is fast approaching, and without the new ID card, you won’t be able to fly (or go onto military bases). To check and see if you’ve got one already, look at the upper right corner of your license. REAL IDs will have a black star there.

Some Groups Want a Delay

Though the requirement to get a REAL ID has been in discussion for years, complete with signs at airports stating the need to change over, some groups are calling for a delay in the deadline. Airports Council International – North America in particular, the trade association for United States and Canadian commercial service airports, is especially concerned. The association says the requirement is going to negatively affect air travel numbers.

“If the government doesn’t make a definitive statement now that they’re going to extend this, then we’re going to have a real crisis on our hands come October 1,” association president and CEO Kevin M. Burke told Dayton 24/7.

Enrollment is Low

The concerns are coming because of low enrollment in the REAL ID program. In Ohio, only 32 percent of IDs are compliant with the law. The problem is likely because of the difficulty it takes to actually get a REAL ID. You need extra documents, which has caused issues for people trying to get one.

“It took me three trips by the time I got everything,” Rob Radil of Waynesville, Ohio, told Dayton 24/7. “They gave me a brochure, I came back and said ‘I have everything.’ They said ‘no, you still missed this.'”

Diana Richmond of Centerville, Ohio, also had document issues, but she was okay with it.

“I had to bring in my marriage license because my social security had my maiden name on it to prove I was who I was,” she told Dayton 24/7. “I think anything we can do to be more safe is worth it.”

A Deadline Delay is Up in the Air, But Don’t Wait

As of right now, it’s uncertain whether the government will decide to delay the requirement. But don’t let that stop you from going to get one—lines are going to be long and you may have to wait, and you don’t want to miss the deadline whether it’s moved or not. Check this list to see if you have all the required documents before you go.

View Comments (34)


  1. rylan

    February 27, 2020 at 5:06 am

    The problem is the process is extremely cumbersome and confusing to a lot of people. You can’t complete it online, and a lot of locations you can’t even start it or provide the documents online/electronically. A lot of people don’t get paper bills or paystubs etc so you have to print them out and hope they are accepted. So you have to go to the DMV (which is a hell-hole in the first place) with a pile of paper and waste hours standing in line to get ‘greeted’ by a disgruntled person who has less interest in being there than you do.

  2. Tack

    February 27, 2020 at 5:48 am

    It took me just 2 hrs. I brought more than required and breezed through. We are a nation of procrastinating babies. Of course there’ll be an extension. SMH. BTW your passport works as a Real ID if you want to skip the DMV and wait until your renewal date.

  3. Spanish


    February 27, 2020 at 5:57 am

    This is such a waste of resources.

  4. AlastairGordon

    February 27, 2020 at 7:12 am

    “It took me just 2 hrs” says it all, really.

  5. JAGorham

    February 27, 2020 at 7:13 am

    What Tack said.

    I’ve always used my passport, though I will likely get a REAL ID at some point just in case I forget the darn thing going to the airport.

    And we don’t need another extension; the delays, at the “request” of the travel industry, have been going on since 2010 or so.

  6. glob99

    February 27, 2020 at 7:13 am

    The “real” id does NOTHING for safety. Will the TSA not scan and check bags of a “real” id holder? Since a “real” id holder could still have evil intent, it is just a big waste of time and money!

  7. ksandness

    February 27, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Passport holders can use their passports, yes?

  8. Bradhattan

    February 27, 2020 at 8:08 am

    The article says it is a black star on the id…not correct…it is a gold circle with a white star!!!

  9. jamesteroh

    February 27, 2020 at 8:29 am

    I’m sure the lines at TSA will be a zoo if they do implement it, even though people have known for years they need a real ID. I’m hoping they will finally stop giving out precheck at random and only give it those of us with a TTN number so those lines will move fairly quickly at least.

    I don’t get the guy from Ohio whining. I live in Ohio and had no issues getting my real ID. All these people have to do is go on the DMV webiste and there is even a checklist. You select if you want a real ID or regular license and the site will have a list of docs and you just mark an X beside the various items online and it will tell you if you have the required docs for the Real ID and you just those to the DMV.

  10. Larrude

    February 27, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Not all Real ID’s have a black star in the upper right hand corner. Most have a star int hat place, though not necessarily black. Several states issue Enhanced Driver’s Licenses that are valid for most land border crossings and have an American flag in the lower right corner. The Enhanced Driver’s licenses are all REAL
    ID compliant.

  11. Peoriaman1

    February 27, 2020 at 8:58 am

    Didn’t they extend the deadline once already?

    Truth be told, just get yourself a passport and call it a day. The requirements for the passport are more lenient than they are for the real ID…. No utility bills needed, etc. No waiting in line forever at the DMV with its army of disgruntled AFSCME automatons. I spent fifteen minutes at my local library finishing the paperwork (most of which is done in advance on an online template) and then waited 6 or 8 weeks for my passport card. Simple. I even took my own picture and printed it at Walgreens for 63 cents.

  12. BThumme

    February 27, 2020 at 9:59 am

    “Won’t be able to fly” is not true. You won’t be able to use a non-real ID. You can still use a passport/card/global entry card/nexus card, etc.

  13. VRFast

    February 27, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Perhaps the same people who have issues getting a REAL ID are the same people who do NOT have a passport? I just got my REAL ID last month when I renewed my license in person at the DMV.

  14. Jinxed_K

    February 27, 2020 at 10:49 am

    “It took me just 2 hrs” says it all, really.

    A few years ago I’ve stood in line for 4 hours at a northeast Philadelphia dmv just to have them tell me they can’t accept the paperwork I brought.
    Drove 30 min away to a suburb dmv and they checked my papers at the door, I was in and out in about 20 min.

    Just gonna use my passport/GE card.. not worth the hassle to get realid till the current license expires.

  15. jamar

    February 27, 2020 at 11:56 am

    My state has made Real ID available by appointment only and makes you pay an extra $50 to change to Real ID if your license has more than 6 months’ validity left on it. Gee, thanks.

  16. unregistered1

    February 27, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    I can understand married women (or married anyone) who has gone through a name change having issues because of the documentation. Anyone else complaining is either too lazy or not intelligent enough to check a website to make sure you have the right docs. I got mine when I moved to TX and it took me maybe 20 minutes.

  17. bostontraveler

    February 27, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    Basically it’s a government power grab. Get as much info as you can. Police state in the making (has been for the past 20 years).
    Of course it’s a waste of our time.
    Sure, you can travel within your own country, just get Global Entry! (be fingerprinted, have an iris scan done, etc etc etc)
    Or, use a PASSPORT… to travel domestically… that makes sense! (?)
    I totally agree that they have done a horrendous job of explaining what has to be done.
    Case in point– my Massachusetts DL has neither of the markings… no star, no mention of “not Federal ID”. Here is their explanation:
    Then compare this to DHS…

  18. boatnfish

    February 27, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    Come on, too me maybe 10 extra minutes when I renewed my license. They started my paperwork then I said I wanted the real id, so they had to start over and have a second person verify my documents.

    This has been coming for a long time, just do it.

  19. FlyingNone

    February 27, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    “No one is ready” ?…..I’m ready, I got my Real ID when my driver’s license was up for renewal.

  20. nearlysober

    February 28, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    @bostontraveler – while it is reasonable to be wary of government power grabs and police states… and while we enjoy freedom of movement between states in the US… air travel is a privilege, not a right. If people want to be off the grid, off the radar and not have the government track them, they’re welcome to take a bus, drive their car or hitchhike across the country to their hearts content. If they want to get in a pressurized metal tube with me at 35,000 feet… I’m fine with the government knowing who they are.

    I got my Enhanced ID 6 months before the last deadline before it was moved out. It was as easy as getting a regular license (which is to say, mildly annoying). They need to hold firm on this date, but instead of having an immediate “you are denied boarding” on day 1 – have like 6 month grace period where if you don’t have proper ID, you are sent thru a secondary screening, with a long horrible line and slow process that doesn’t impact anyone who has the right iD. Maybe make them go thru the same painful process for if you’ve lost your ID (there is a process for that afterall).

    Most people will learn pretty quick after that.

  21. glob99

    February 28, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    Hey folks, the real id does absolutely nothing to increase aviation safety.

  22. slomike

    February 28, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    there have already been extensions. You just need to take some time and carefully gather your paperwork to get this done. If you have a passport you don’t even need to worry about this now.

  23. minhaoxue

    February 28, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    Americans are great at complaining. This is just pure laziness if you don’t have a complaint ID by now. I live in California and just got up a little early one day and went in with all the required documents. The whole process took 45 minutes.

  24. rwessman

    February 29, 2020 at 4:26 am

    New York state’s DMV website has a list of documents to bring as well. However, when I went to get mine, the DMV clerk said that I needed to have another one (I forget which) so I had to go back with the extra document. This time, the clerk (different one) said that I didn’t need the extra one and let me get the license.
    As to the symbol, it seems vary from state to state. This strikes me as strange because I thought the idea was to have consistent ID’s.

  25. rjpjr

    February 29, 2020 at 10:17 am

    I live in MD. My DMV has a quick-stop office that does only renewals and other paper stuff (no first-time licenses, no out-of-state conversions, no first-time registrations, etc.). You can make an appointment for RealID – pick a time slot on the computer, get a text/email confirmation, show it to the “concierge” manning the lines who gives a quick scan to be sure you have ticked all the boxes on the paperwork list, and then be placed in a separate line – wait time for me was 20 min at 10AM..

    BTW, if you don’t have a passport, a RealID substitute, or the RealID itself by the deadline, you are either A) lazy, B) stupid, C) need a mother to yell at you, or D) undeserving of boarding an airplane. You can complain all you’d like about the necessity of this thing and the pain in the butt, but that does not trump your responsibility to obtain it.

  26. jtmann05

    February 29, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    My biggest problem with this program is that TSA doesn’t even really know what IDs are compliant. I have an enhanced license, which does qualify, but it doesn’t have the star. Most agents have been under the direction of simply looking for that star. Maybe the training will be better by October, but I”m not very confident.

  27. seigex

    February 29, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Come to a Southern California DMV and tell me it’s only 2 hours. You’re lucky to enter the doors within 2 hours just to get your number to finally wait for the next 5 hours to be called.

  28. Global321

    March 1, 2020 at 7:23 am

    The REAL ID Act became effective nationwide on May 11, 2008

    Over 12 years ago.

    Any state that has not done this cannot blame anyone but themselves.

    And despite the article headline… lots of states… lots of people… are ready!

  29. jamar

    March 2, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    I’m basically not bothering with Real ID at this point- between the extra $50 fee my state wants to charge me for doing it earlier than 6 months from expiration, the fact that appointments at my local DMV for the conversion are full a month out (in a town of less than 100k), and the fact that I have a NEXUS card already, it’s just not worth the extra hassle and cost for me (the extra fee alone is what I paid for my NEXUS, even).

  30. kkua

    March 3, 2020 at 7:02 am

    C’mon. Just get a passport already. Dish out a few extra bucks and use the passport as your primary form of travel ID like the rest of the world.

  31. shipcamein

    March 3, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    Not really understanding the passive “endorsement” of the bad attitude in this article. There should be -instead – an article called, GET YOUR REAL ID NOW, TAKES BARELY LONGER THAN THE USUAL RENEWAL. Which, in Ohio at least, is completely true. The list of acceptable items is crystal clear. The only “obstacle” to getting one is a bad attitude. Whether it is or isn’t needed, fair, or useful – it’s the law, Oct. 1. Stop whining and go get it. C’mon, FlyerTalk, don’t encourage these naysayers. There’s no “difficulty” in getting it, certainly not the difficulty involved in getting a passport.

  32. tods27

    March 4, 2020 at 6:16 am

    This is a state government issue. Some states have implemented well, and some poorly. Colorado reports 97% of licensed drivers have a compliant ID.

  33. arollins

    March 4, 2020 at 10:38 am

    This has been in the making for some time. Plenty of time for people to change their DL to REAL ID. My wife got hers last years when her DL was on renewal. She had to go through the whole process of proving who she was with because of her last name change due to marriage. Me, I held up since my renewal was on Oct 2020, I renewed on Feb and already have mine. Did not wanted to wait until last minute as I bet it will be chaotic.

  34. skidooman

    March 6, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    I tried to do it. But the RMV here in Mass will not replace your ID unless you have one year or less of validity left.

    This is a typical case where states and feds aren’t talking to one another.

    In my case, that is fine. I will still be able to fly, I have two passports. But others may not. Perhaps some pols’ rear end will hurt when thousands of people will find out in October they cannot fly anymore.

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