You’ll Soon Need a Gold Star on Your License to Fly in 2020
If your driver's license doesn't have a gold star on it, you may not be able get past the TSA checkpoints when you fly this year. On October 1, 2020, all air travelers who use their driver licenses to fly domestically will be required to comply with the REAL ID Act of 2005.
The law, passed by Congress after 9/11, establishes specific federal requirements for state-issued driver licenses and identity cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes, like entering a federal building or boarding a domestic flight. According to the law guidelines, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson states that the law was put in place to tighten airport security after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. “They found that each state had different security guidelines for issuing state IDs or driver’s licenses,” Benson says. “And some were weak enough to allow for illegal copying or altering.”
To avoid waiting until the last minute, Michigan residents should make an appointment at their local Secretary of State office. They are advised to bring their birth certificate, a valid U.S. passport, or any documentation that shows their legal presence in the country. Also keep in mind that if you had a name change, such as a marriage, that is not reflected on those documents be sure to bring proof of the change.
As far as cost, upgrading to a REAL ID-compliant card is free if you get one within your normal license or ID card renewal. There is no need to make the change if you have a valid U.S. passport, an enhanced driver’s license, or a Trusted Traveler card.