Understand: Real ID Act and what it means for you

KSAT News at 9 explains what you will need to know before boarding a plane

The San Antonio International Airport, Transportation Security Administration and the Texas Department of Public Safety want to remind everyone that now is the time to check your ID cards to make sure they're complaint with the Real ID Act by next October.

SAN ANTONIO – If you’re a frequent flyer, you may want to check your state-issued identification card to make sure you are Real ID-compliant.

The Real ID Act will be enforced beginning October 1, 2020. This means you will need a Real ID to board a commercial aircraft.

Even though October is months away, representatives from the San Antonio International Airport, the Transportation Security Administration and the Texas Department of Public Safety want to remind everyone to check their driver’s licenses and identification cards now.

What is a Real ID?

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005. This enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government set security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs.

To get a Real ID, you’re required to prove your age, identity, Social Security number and address. This means you will have to bring more documents with you when you renew your license.

Document requirements will vary depending on who you are and whether you’re getting a driver’s license or identification card. You may be asked for a birth certificate or passport, a Social Security card or tax form and proof of address.

You can check what documents you’ll need on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website.

“From our position at TSA, Real ID adds another layer of security to the many other layers we already have in place, and it helps prevent people from using fraudulent IDs," said Carrie Harmon, spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration.

How do you know if your ID is a Real ID?

Check the upper right hand corner of your card. If there is a star, that indicates it is a Real ID. If not, you will need to get a new ID before next October.

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Texas started issuing Real ID-compliant cards in October 2016. Nearly 16 million Texans already have them. Another 1.5 million Texans are scheduled to renew their licenses before the October deadline next year.

If you don’t fall into either of these categories, the Texas Department of Public Safety will likely reach out to you to let you know your options.

“Their options may include renewing their driver’s license or ID card up to two years early, requesting a replacement card or ignoring all of our reminders because they already have a valid U.S. passport and they plan to use that to travel,” said Amanda Arriaga, director of the Driver License Division at the Texas Department of Public Safety.

What will happen if you try to board a flight on October 1, 2020 without a Real ID?

If you don’t have a Real ID or another acceptable form of identification, such as a passport or military ID, you will not be allowed to board your flight.

About the Authors:

Lexi Salazar produces KSAT Explains, a weekly, in-depth streaming show that digs into the most important issues facing San Antonio. She previously produced the News at 9, San Antonio's first streaming-only news program.

Valerie Gomez is the lead video editor and graphic artist for KSAT Explains. Before starting at KSAT in 2017, she worked as a video editor for KENS 5 and KVUE in Austin. She graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a bachelor's in mass communication and is a product of SAISD and the South Side of San Antonio. She loves Jeff Goldblum.