Currently, you do not need a REAL ID to fly domestically within the U.S.
This will change on May 7, 2025, at which point a REAL ID will be required to fly domestic, though the TSA will still accept several other forms of ID.
Table of Contents
- 1 Do You Need a REAL ID to Fly?
- 2 Why You Will Need REAL ID to Fly
- 3 Getting a REAL ID is Cheap
- 4 You Won’t Be Able to Fly Without a REAL ID
- 5 Minors Won’t Need a REAL ID to Fly Domestically
- 6 How to Get a REAL ID
- 7 TSA PreCheck and CLEAR Enrolled Passengers
- 8 Alternatives to a REAL ID For Domestic Flights
- 9 A REAL ID isn’t Enough to Fly Internationally
Do You Need a REAL ID to Fly?
From May 7, 2025, you will need a Real ID to fly domestically within the U.S.
Note that a REAL ID is required only if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S.
Also note that Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue REAL ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which are acceptable. Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only.
State-issued enhanced driver’s licenses are marked with a flag, while you can check if your ID is REAL ID compliant by checking to see if there is a star at the top of your license.
Other forms of ID will also be acceptable to fly with, which we list below.
Why You Will Need REAL ID to Fly
The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 but will only come into effect on May 7, 2025, due to various roadblocks and the Covid pandemic.
It was passed by Congress to establish “minimum security standards for license issuance and production” to help prevent fraudulent identification, regardless if it’s your first time flying or not.
Getting a REAL ID is Cheap
REAL ID driver licenses, cost $30-35 depending on the state, plus applicable renewal fees.
In California, for example, REAL ID costs $35 compared to $30 in Pennsylvania.
You Won’t Be Able to Fly Without a REAL ID
From May 7, 2025, if you arrive at the airport without a REAL ID or other form of acceptable ID, you will not be permitted through the security checkpoint and will therefore not be able to fly.
Currently, it may still be possible to fly if you do not have a valid form of identification, as long as you provide other documents that can help prove your identity, which the TSA will use along with checking in existing databases to prove your identity.
However, starting from May 7, 2025, this is unlikely to still be the case.
Minors Won’t Need a REAL ID to Fly Domestically
Minors will not need a REAL ID to fly domestically.
As long as a minor (someone who is under 18) is accompanied by an adult who has an acceptable form of ID to fly, they do not need any ID to fly.
However, the airline you are flying with may ask you to show proof of the child’s age.
It’s therefore a good idea to travel with a copy of the child’s birth certificate.
Related: What Do Kids Need to Fly?
How to Get a REAL ID
If you want to get a REAL ID, you should visit your state’s driver’s licensing agency website or give them a call to find out what the exact requirements are.
At a minimum, you must provide documentation showing:
- Your full legal name
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Two proofs of address of your principal residence
- Your lawful status
TSA PreCheck and CLEAR Enrolled Passengers
TSA PreCheck passengers still require a REAL ID to fly from May 7, 2025, or any other form of acceptable ID.
Passengers using CLEAR and passengers enrolled in CLEAR will also need a REAL ID or other acceptable form of ID starting May 7, 2025.
Alternatives to a REAL ID For Domestic Flights
There are several alternatives to flying with a REAL ID card, including a passport, passport card, Global Entry Card, as well as various forms of military ID and other government-issued IDs.
The TSA state that the following forms of ID are acceptable to fly with:
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Permanent resident card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Border crossing card
- An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized, Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
A REAL ID isn’t Enough to Fly Internationally
A REAL ID cannot be used to fly internationally; it can only be used to fly domestically.
If you are flying internationally, a passport is necessary, even for minors.
A visa may also be required depending on the country you are flying to.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).