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Virginia Residents Will Need ‘REAL ID’ to Board An Airplane Starting May 2025

Do you have a star on your Virginia driver’s license? If not, there’s still time to get your REAL ID-compliant driver’s license with that star on it. But it’s better to get it sooner, rather than later.

Virginia residents who want to board an airplane for a domestic flight will soon need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. If their driver’s license is not REAL ID-compliant, they will need another form of approved identification, such as a passport to board their flight or enter a secure federal facility or military base. The REAL ID driver’s license and identification card have a small star in the upper right corner to indicate they meet federal regulations that establish minimum security standards.

REAL ID goes into effect in about one year, starting May 7, 2025, and the countdown is on!

“REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and identification cards,” says Robin “Chuck” Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport. “The improvements are intended to inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”

Virginia residents have the option to upgrade to a REAL ID if their license does not currently have the star or stick with an older standard driver’s license. However, a standard credential—without the star—will not be valid to board a domestic flight or to access secure federal facilities, including military bases and some federal offices.

To get the REAL ID star, individuals will need to visit their local Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles office in person and bring certain documents to prove U.S. citizenship and Virginia residency. Required documents include one proof of identity (passport or U.S. birth certificate), proof of legal presence for non-U.S. citizens, two proofs of Virginia residency, your social security card (if you’ve been issued one) and a current driver’s license if you are applying to exchange one issued by another U.S. state.

Transportation Security Administration officers who staff the ticket document checking station at airports will not allow travelers into the checkpoint without a REAL ID-compliant license or another form of acceptable ID after May 7, 2025, because of a federal law (The REAL ID Act of 2005) that mandates that a REAL ID is needed for federal purposes.

Travelers will start to notice new signs at airports nationwide to remind people that REAL ID-compliant licenses or other acceptable forms of ID, such as a valid passport, federal government PIV card or U.S. military ID, will be mandatory for air travel beginning on May 7, 2025, Burke explained. “Critically important, on May 7, 2025, individuals who are unable to verify their identity may not be permitted to enter the TSA checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly,” he said.

For more information and details about how to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card in Virginia, visit Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles web site.

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