real id

A sample of a state-issued driver license shows the star that indicates it is a REAL ID.

U.S. residents will need a REAL ID to access federal facilities and fly commercial airlines within the U.S. after Oct. 1, 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that “the Federal Government set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses,” the DHS website states.

New Jersey residents must schedule an appointment at a local New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission agency by next October to obtain their REAL ID — a driver’s license with a star marking on it.

The MVC is currently beta testing REAL ID at various locations and will notify the public when an agency has been validated and is fully operational, according to Jim Hooker, spokesman for the MVC.

Currently, Trenton Regional and Eatontown offices are the only locations that are fully operational and are issuing REAL IDs by appointment.

“We are phasing in REAL ID in New Jersey in order to avoid the kinds of problems experienced in other states, such as inordinately long lines or problems with issuance,” Hooker said in an email. “We want to retain flexibility to go as fast as we can without sacrificing customer service. We also want to ensure personnel in each agency are fully proficient so the process is smooth and quick.”

U.S. passports will also be accepted in lieu of a REAL ID when flying domestically, according to the DHS. REAL ID cards cannot be used to travel to Canada, Mexico or international sea cruises.

Children under 18 are not required to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States, but the companion will need acceptable identification, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

“No one is required to get a REAL ID,” Hooker said. “However, starting Oct. 1, 2020, you won’t be able to get on a commercial airliner with just a standard New Jersey license ID.”

A majority of the 50 states and U.S. Territories are in compliance of the Real ID Act. Oregon and Oklahoma have extensions into August and September, respectively. New Jersey and U.S. territory American Samoa are under review, according to the DHS website.

When asked to clarify the “under review” status, Hooker said that New Jersey has met all criteria for compliance and submitted all final documentation to the DHS on Sept. 17.

In New Jersey, a REAL ID costs $24, the same as an initial driver’s license or renewal. If a resident opts to change their standard license to a REAL ID before its renewal period the cost is $11.

Residents are required to provide documentation showing their full legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, two proofs of address and lawful status at their REAL ID appointment, according to the DHS.

To make an appointment sign up at For more information on REAL ID, visit

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