Star on State ID Is About to Become Hugely Important

One year from REAL ID deadline, most Americans are without
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2019 9:50 AM CDT
Star on State ID Is About to Become Hugely Important
Todd Hauptli, CEO of the American Association of Airport Executives, shows his REAL ID driver's license during a news conference at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Americans intending to fly domestically next year using their state-issued ID better first check the upper right-hand corner. Starting Oct. 1, 2020, travelers will need an upgraded driver's license—what's known as a REAL ID—to access airport security checkpoints, nuclear power plants, and certain federal buildings. The IDs, featuring a star in the corner, are warranted through the REAL ID Act passed in 2005 in response to security concerns raised by the 9/11 Commission, NPR reports. To get one, a person typically needs to show a birth certificate or permanent resident card, a Social Security card, and at least two documents with proof of address.

But a year out, just 27% of Americans have a REAL ID, reports CNN, which notes that states such as New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Oregon haven't even begun issuing them. And more than half of Americans are unaware of the approaching deadline, according to a study conducted for the US Travel Association. A rep says it's unrealistic to expect 182 million Americans to visit the DMV before next October. Even so, "if you don't have one of the compliant IDs, either a REAL ID or one of the alternatives, like a passport, you're actually gonna be turned away at the checkpoint." Indeed, some 78,000 people could be turned away at airports on the first day that the federal law goes into effect, per NPR. (More identification stories.)

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