(Courtesy photo)

The deadline for getting the new REAL ID is Oct. 1, 2020. What is a REAL ID and why will you need one? As a result of the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the Depart­ment of Homeland Security, through the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, has implemented a program to standardize the issuance of a driver’s license, a piece of identification that is one of the core ways to verify one’s identity.

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005. Gaining compliance by all 50 states took considerable time, resulting in the eventual deadline of October 2020. The im­pact is significant for all persons who fly on domestic airlines.

While the REAL ID program is voluntary, citizens will not be permitted to fly within the Uni­ted States without a REAL ID. In fact, citizens will not pass TSA security without one. The only way around this is to use a government issued passport along with your driver’s license, on any domestic flight.

The goal is to create a minimum standard for security surrounding documents used for certain official purposes, accor­ding to the Department of Home­land Security. This includes ac­cessing federal facilities, boarding federally regulated aircraft, and entering nuclear power plants.

On Oct. 1, 2020, TSA agents may only accept REAL IDs or acceptable state alternatives, known as Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) as issued by certain states such as Vermont and Wisconsin.

Massachusetts residents should visit their local registry office by Oct. 1, 2020 to receive a REAL ID license, especially if they do not have a passport and wish to fly somewhere in the United States.

AAA offices in Massachusetts are also offering this service. There are specific documents required to obtain a REAL ID for adults 18 and over. Docu­ments required include proof of US citizenship, proof of residency and social security card.

Only originals will be accepted as proof, no photocopies or laminated versions. Additionally, proof of name change must also be produced, in the form of mu­nicipal marriage certificate, di­vorce decree or court issued name change document.

The RMV has created an on­line form to start the transaction in advance of visiting the registry to speed the process along at It may take some time to collect this information, so plan ahead. Lines are reported to be long already to renew licenses and obtain a REAL ID.

It is important to note that a REAL ID is not mandatory, and that citizens may board domestic flights with their regular driver’s license so long as they have a passport in hand.

Yes, you read that correctly; to fly domestically in the United States, you will need your passport if you do not have a REAL ID. Your driver’s license alone will not suffice.

However, the REAL ID is NOT a substitute for a passport for cruises or international travel. Other forms of identification that are acceptable without the REAL ID include a US Depart­ment of Defense ID, federally recognized tribal IDs, transportation worker credentials and U.S. Merchant Marine credentials.

For more information, and to determine if the REAL ID is right for you, visit and search for REAL ID.

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