AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – November marks six months until the deadline for U.S. travelers needing to have updated driver’s licenses or identification cards to board domestic flights and access federal facilities.

Here are a few quick facts about the REAL ID Act and its upcoming deadlines.

What is a REAL ID? What does it look like?

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the REAL ID Act was passed in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The law requires states to adopt and implement uniform standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards if they are to be accepted by the federal government. The measures were intended to reduce identity fraud and terrorism.

Texas started issuing REAL ID-compliant cards on Oct. 10, 2016, which are marked with a gold circle with an inset star found in the upper right-hand corner.

Examples of Real ID compliant licenses, via the Texas Department of Public Safety.

If you replaced or renewed your card after Oct. 10, 2016, and have a gold star in the right-hand corner, your card is REAL ID compliant and no further action is required on your part.

Important dates and deadlines for the REAL ID Act

May 11, 2005 – The United States Congress passed the REAL ID Act in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, requiring states to adopt uniform standards for state-issued and federally-accepted driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Oct. 10, 2016 – Texas began issuing REAL ID-compliant cards marked with a gold circle and an inset star found in the upper right-hand corner. People who have not replaced or renewed their Texas driver’s licenses or identification cards since that day may need to apply for an updated card.

March 2023 – In Texas, new ID cards tend to arrive in the mail around four to six weeks after the application process is completed. To allow for about six weeks in the mail, those who need to update to a REAL ID-compliant card may want to apply before the end of March 2023, at the latest. Because some officials expect a rush of REAL ID applications in spring 2023, they suggested that starting the application process sooner rather than later may help avoid delays.

May 3, 2023 – Beginning in May 2023, only state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards compliant with the REAL ID Act will be accepted for federal government purposes, such as entering secure federal buildings, or boarding domestic flights. Non-compliant cards in Texas will only be accepted for state-related purposes after this date, such as driving (for driver’s licenses), banking, and voting.

How do I get a REAL ID?

To receive a REAL ID in Texas, you will need to:

  1. Complete the ID card application (these are also available at all driver’s license offices)
  2. Make an appointment at a driver’s license office
  3. Provide the needed documentation to the license and permit specialist:
    • Application for the ID card
    • US Citizenship or lawful presence
    • Texas Residency
    • Identity
    • Social Security Number
  4. Provide your signature for your ID card
  5. Provide your thumbprints
  6. Have your picture taken
  7. Pay the application fee

Once that’s finished, you’ll receive a temporary ID card and your new card will arrive in the mail in around four to six weeks. The mailing status of your ID card can be checked here.

However, temporary visitors and foreign students applying for a Texas ID card need to meet additional requirements.

For further information about REAL IDs, you can visit the TSA’s websiteDHS’s website, or contact your local DMV.