Wanna Fly? You May Need a New Drivers License Soon


  • Memphis International Airport

The flying public will soon need a new drivers license if they hope to use it as identification to board airplanes here next year.

Signs about the new Real ID cards have gone up around Memphis International Airport and have had some wondering what they should do next. The short answer is nothing, yet.

Tennesseans can begin applying for the new drivers license in July. They have until October 1st, 2020 to get one if they want to use it to get past federal security checkpoints at Tennessee airports.
  • Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security

The new cards come after Congress passed The Real ID Act of 2005. That act was passed in the wake of the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001.

Proving residency seems to be at the heart of the new cards. To get one, you’ll have to provide ”proof to establish citizenship or legal presence,” “proof of your full Social Security Number,” and “two proofs of Tennessee residency.” The Tennessee Real ID website says “you should also be prepared to provide documentation of any name changes that may have occurred.”
They will look almost exactly like existing Tennessee drivers licenses with one main difference. The Real ID cards will feature a yellow circle with a star at the top right corner.

  • Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security

Not everyone needs to get these cards. You’ll need one to fly, enter a federal facility, or visit a nuclear facility after October 1, 2020.

You do not need a Real ID to drive, vote, buy alcohol or cigarettes, access hospitals, visit the post office, access federal courts, and apply for or receive federal benefits like Social Security or veteran's benefits, according to the state.

Even after the October 1, 2020, deadline, the flying public can still use a long list of other, approved credentials to board planes like U.S. Passports, DHS trusted traveler cards (like Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST), border crossing cards, and more. Go here for the full list.

If you don’t get the new Real ID, the next time you renew your drivers license it’ll say ”Not for Federal Identification” printed on the front.

To get a Real ID, you have to do it in person, not online or at a kiosk. Here’s a list of the 44 driver services stations in the state. There are three around Memphis.

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