Got a gold star on your license? You'll need one to fly, starting next year

New rule goes into place Oct. 1, 2020

By Michelle Ganley - Graham Media Group

Have you heard of a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license?

You'll need to make sure you're familiar with the term and that you have one in your wallet, if you plan on traveling commercially any time after Oct. 1, 2020.

Just look for the star, as shown in the photo above.

The new rule applies to every traveler who is 18 years or older, starting in the fall of next year.

"REAL ID-compliant cards are generally marked with a star located in the upper portion of the card," the Transportation Security Administration said on its website. "If you’re not sure, contact your state driver’s license agency on how to obtain (one)."

The REAL ID Act, as it's called, was actually passed by Congress in 2005. It enacted 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 move will prohibit federal agencies, like the TSA, from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these minimum standards. So, you won't be able to board a plane or get through airport security without a REAL ID.

Visit the FAQ web page posted by Homeland Security if you have further concerns. If you scroll about halfway down this site, the TSA addresses some questions as well.

Many states have been issuing REAL ID-ready driver's licenses and identity cards for several years, leading up to the switch.

For more specific regional questions, visit your state's website. For example, Texas DPS addresses the change-over and Michigan has an FAQs page for questions about the enhanced driver's license and what it entails in regards to the REAL ID.

Graham Media Group 2019