Having a star on your license means that you have a REAL ID.
Currently, you do not need a star on your license – i.e. possess a REAL ID – in order to fly domestically within the U.S.
From May 7, 2025, you will need a Real ID if you plan on using your state-issued ID or license to fly.
Do You Need a Star on Your License to Fly Domestically?
Beginning May 7, 2025, if you are 18 years old or older, you will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States.
Other acceptable forms of ID include:
- 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)
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.
Do You Need a Star on Your License to Fly Internationally?
Regardless if you have a star on your license or not, you will not be able to fly internationally with a REAL ID.
To fly internationally, you must own a passport and in some instances a visa too, depending on the country you are flying to.
Minors also need a passport to fly internationally.
The necessity of having a passport for international travel is especially confusing for first time flyers.
Why Do You Need a Star on Your License to Fly?
A star on your license shows that you have a REAL ID, which is necessary to fly starting from May 7, 2025, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S.
The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 to establish “minimum security standards for license issuance and production” to help prevent fraudulent identification.
It has taken this long to come into effect due to various roadblocks and the Covid pandemic.
What Documents Do You Need to Get a REAL ID?
While the requirements to get a REAL ID can vary depending on your state’s driver’s licensing agency, 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
Do Minors Need a Star on Their ID to Fly Domestically?
Minors do not need any form of ID to fly domestically as long as they are accompanied by an adult who has an acceptable form of ID to fly.
Do You Still Need a REAL ID if You Are a TSA PreCheck Passenger or Enrolled in CLEAR?
Regardless if you are a TSA PreCheck passenger or are enrolled in CLEAR, you will still need a REAL ID to fly from May 7, 2025, or any other form or acceptable ID.
How Much Does a REAL ID Cost?
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.
What Happens If You Try 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.
As it stands, 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.
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Robert is a seasoned flyer who knows more about commercial air travel than practically anyone else out there due to the time he has spent at airports and on planes over the years for work.