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REAL ID for North Carolina Residents

North Carolina REAL ID

The federal government has outlined a more rigorous process for obtaining the type of identification cards that will be accepted for:

  • Boarding a plane (even for domestic flights).
  • Entering a nuclear power plant.
  • Entering a federal facility.

Beginning on October 1, 2021, a standard North Carolina license will no longer satisfy the new requirements: The above tasks will require a REAL ID.

There are no additional costs to upgrade your license or state ID to a federally accepted REAL ID as long as you apply for your REAL ID within 6 months of the expiration date of your current ID.

North Carolina REAL IDs are marked with a star in the upper right-hand corner. Once you have a REAL ID, you can renew it the same way you would a standard license or ID card.

To obtain a North Carolina REAL ID for the first time, you’ll need to present documents at a Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver licensing office.

North Carolina REAL ID Documents

To get a REAL ID for the first time in North Carolina, you’ll have to visit your local driver’s licensing office. Consider making an appointment to spend less time in line.

Visit the DMV and present*:

  • Proof of identity and date of birth. This can be your:
    • U.S. birth certificate.
    • U.S. passport.
    • Foreign passport with valid U.S. Visa and I-94 arrival/departure record.
  • Proof of social security. Acceptable documents include your:
    • Original social security card.
    • 1099 or W-2 tax form with full name and social security number (SSN).
    • Pay stub with full SSN.
  • Proof of North Carolina residency (2 documents required). This may include your:
    • Cable or utility bill.
    • Mortgage or rental payment statement.
    • Vehicle registration card.
  • Proof of lawful U.S. residency (for non-U.S. citizens). This could be your:
    • Foreign passport with a valid U.S. Visa and an I-94 arrival and departure record.
    • Certificate of Naturalization.
    • Valid employment authorization document.
  • Proof of legal name change (if applicable). This may be your:
    • Marriage certificate (signed by the issuing authority).
    • Divorce decree.
  • Payment for the driver’s license or ID fee.

*The NC DMV has an intuitive checklist that includes all acceptable items. Minors will need to provide more documents to establish residency.


The cost of a North Carolina REAL ID is the same as a regular license or photo ID.

  • NC non-commercial license for drivers between 18 and 65 years old: $44 (valid 8 years).
  • NC non-commercial license for drivers under 18 and over 65 years old: $27.50 (valid 5 years).
  • Photo ID card: $14.
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL): $21.50 per year.
  • Duplicate license*: $14.

*This is the fee you’ll be charged if you upgrade to a REAL ID before your renewal period begins (renewal period starts 6 months before your license expires). Your license will NOT be renewed and your new card will expire on the same date as your current card.

REAL ID for North Carolina Residents FAQ

New York, Vermont, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington currently issue "enhanced driver's licenses" (EDLs) that are designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as acceptable to enter the United States at land and sea ports of entry in accordance with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). Are EDLs acceptable for official federal purposes such as boarding a commercial aircraft?

State EDLs that are acceptable as border-crossing documents by DHS under WHTI are acceptable to be used for official federal purposes, like boarding commercial airlines and getting access to a federal agencies or facilities.

May states issue a duplicate REAL ID remotely?

If there hasn’t been any kind of changes to a person's PII or any material changes, a state can issue a duplicate of a REAL ID. These will have the exact same information that the original did, so if you need to change info, then you need to go in person.

What would be considered a material change in Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

Material change is any change to a person's PII. This includes any information that demonstrates a person's identity, such as: their social security number or date of birth. This also includes any information that appears in various databases or in the technology on the card that’s machine readable. Keep in mind, material change does NOT include change of address or principal residence.

Upon renewal do applicants need to re-submit any documents that were required at the time of the initial application?

Unless there has been any change of any personally identifiable information, the only people that need to submit documents are those that hold temporary or limited term licenses or ID cards.

What is the purpose of an exceptions process?

Since every jurisdiction is unique and has different needs, the exceptions process lets them meet their individual needs for their specific circumstances. This process can help people that can't show identity documents as a result of situations out of their control, such as a natural disaster. In these cases, states might have to see alternative documents that can prove identity.

How should a "Temporary" or "Limited Term" license be marked?

These types of licenses need to indicate that they are temporary and include an expiration date. These indications need to be on the front and in zone that’s the machine readable.

Can a "Temporary" or "Limited Term" license be renewed remotely?

These licenses and identification cards need to be renewed in person. The person also needs to present verifiable and valid documents and evidence that proves that the temporary lawful status is still in valid and the individual has lawful status in the United States.

Occasionally an alien may present a document that on its face has an expiration date that has already passed, yet the document has been extended by DHS and should be regarded as unexpired. Can a state accept a document under these circumstances?

The only people that can do this are those that have applied for or have been granted Temporary Protected Status(TPS). They also need to have a Form I-766 and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that can be given an automatic extension by DHS. DHS grants these extensions through a Federal Register notice and they usually last around 6 months. The Notice includes the following information: how to figure out which EADs can get one of these extensions and a new expiration date for the EADs.

What classifications of aliens are eligible for full-term compliant driver's licenses?

The classifications of eligible aliens are listed below.

  • Aliens that have been legally admitted for permanent or temporary residence
  • Aliens that have conditional permanent residence
  • Aliens that have an application for asylum that’s been approved
  • Aliens that entered the United States as a refugee
Does an applicant have to provide documentation of all previous names if the name on the identity source documents – e.g., birth certificate – is different from the current legal name that will be displayed on the new license or identification card to be issued?

While applicants don't have to give a complete list of every name they may have used previously, they should be able to present documentation that shows a link between the name shown on the document and the name they want to be on the issued document. Keep in mind, states can decide and choose what documents they require for this.

Does the REAL ID Act require an applicant who wears a head covering for religious reasons to alter or remove the head covering so that the driver’s license or identification card photograph shows their hair or ears?

No, because the REAL ID regulations for digital photographs recognizes that some people might wear a head covering for different purposes, including religious. There are some requirements, though. These are: the covering shouldn't cover the person's face or cast a shadow, allow the face to be visible from the hairline to the chin and from the ears forward. The regulations do not require the hairline or ears to be fully exposed.

At what point in the application process should states capture the applicant's image?

The applicant's photo should be taken at the start of the process when they turn their completed application into a representative of the DMV. If there is any type of fraud detected at any time during the process, the DMV should try and get a photo of the person, even if an application is not submitted or completed.

Will an extension be renewable?

As long as the state has a valid reason for being non compliant, the Secretary can decide whether or not to renew an extension. They aren't automatic and state needs to show that they are actually making progress to become compliant.

How will DHS determine whether to grant an extension to a jurisdiction?

The following things will be considered by DHS for determining whether or not a jurisdiction will be granted an extension.

  • Whether or not the highest state official is overseeing the state's Driver Licensing Authority and has committed to meet the requirements of the REAL ID act.
  • Whether or not the state has documented the status of met and unmet requirements, plans and milestones for meeting unmet requirements and a target date for when REAL ID compliant documents will be ready.
  • Whether or not the state has participated in the ergular progress reviews by DHS concerning the status of unmet requirements.
What happens when a state’s extension expires?

When a state's extension expires, it can be banned from accepting state driver’s licenses or identification cards for federal purposes. That said, though, the Secretary of Homeland Security can grant a short grace period before federal agencies require REAL ID-compliant documents to enter federal agencies, get access to nuclear power plants or ride commercial airlines. States that don't receive an extension will be subject to REAL ID enforcement beginning on May 01, 2025.

How long will a State extension for REAL ID Compliance Last?

While there isn't one correct answer, the exact length will be determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

What is an State extension for REAL ID?

Since federal agencies can't accept driver's licenses or IDs issued by states that don't meet the REAL ID requirements for official purposes, the Secretary of Homeland Security can grant an extension of time to meet these requirements. If a state has been granted one of these extensions, then federal agencies CAN accept non compliant driver's licenses and IDs.

How will the public be impacted by the recertification process?

Since the recertification process doesn't affect the compliant states that are currently under review, there shouldn't be any impact to residents that use their REAL ID driver's licenses and IDs for official purposes. If DHS happens to find a state that doesn't meet the requirements, they will work closely to get everything figured out and minimize downtime.

How will DHS implement the recertification of compliant states?

From 2012 to 2014, 23 different states received Determinations of Compliance. Since these states meet the requirements for recertification, the DHS will recertify them every 3 years on a continuing basis. There will be around 5 states recertified at a time and as one gets a determination, a new state will be selected.

Why is DHS recertifying compliant states at this time?

Since DHS sent the first batch of Determinations of Compliance in December 2012, a lot of the technology used to verify everything was still being developed. Now that all of these technologies have been released, DHS can use one set of standards and technologies to make sure states are compliant.

Why is DHS recertifying states already determined to be compliant?

DHS determines if a state is compliant based on certifications that are submitted by the state. The REAL ID regulation states how these documents need to be ordered a certain way and states need to recertify every 3 years.

Can jurisdictions meeting the standards of REAL ID continue to issue non-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards?

REAL ID allows jurisdictions to grant driver's licenses and IDs that are not compliant with the Act. However, these particular cards need to clearly state on the front and in the zone that’s machine readable that they aren't acceptable for official purposes.

If my state issues an Enhanced Driver’s Licenses, is that sufficient for my state to be REAL ID compliant?

While EDLs are acceptable for federal purposes under the WHTI, it's not enough to decide that the state is in complete compliance for the purpose of figuring out whether a federal agency may accept a state's regular driver's license for official purposes. An example would be that a federal agency can accept an EDL issued from a state, but not a normal driver's license from the same state.

What information does a state need to submit to DHS in order to obtain a DHS Determination of Compliance?

To see what information a state needs to submit, you can look at The REAL ID Regulation (6 C.F.R. Part 37, Subpart E), which gives you all the details.

Where can a state find information on the REAL ID Act and regulations?

You can find links to all of the regulations, statute and supporting documents at You could also visit the website for the Department of Homeland Security at [email protected].

Does the REAL ID Act require an applicant who wears a head covering for religious reasons to alter or remove the head covering so that the driver’s license or identification card photograph shows their hair or ears?

No, because the REAL ID regulations for digital photographs recognizes that some people might wear a head covering for different purposes, including religious. There are some requirements, though. These are: the covering shouldn't cover the person's face or cast a shadow, allow the face to be visible from the hairline to the chin and from the ears forward. The regulations do not require the hairline or ears to be fully exposed.

Are other categories of non-U.S. citizens that are only eligible to receive a temporary (limited term) REAL ID-compliant document eligible for a regular full term REAL ID-compliant document?

While the REAL ID Modification for Freely Associated States Act only applies to citizens of the Freely Associated States, citizens from other categories can still get a temporary REAL ID card. These categories of people are: a person who is a non immigrant, has an application for asylum that’s pending, has a temporary or approved application for temporary protected status, has approved deferred action or has a an application that’s pending for lawful or conditional permanent resident status.

Will other classes of nonimmigrants be eligible to present a valid passport and I-94 for proof of identity and lawful status and be issued a REAL ID-compliant document?

These documents are only able to be used as an acceptable identity document by citizens of the Freely Associated States. People from other places will still need to show the other required documents, which are: a passport that’s valid, a valid visa, and I-94. They can also show a valid EAD to prove their identity and lawful status. Regardless, everything will be checked through Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE).

What will the validity period be for REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification cards issued to citizens of the Freely Associated States who present the necessary identity and lawful status documents? Will these documents look any different from documents issued to a U.S. citizen?

For full-term REAL ID compliant documents, the valid period will be the same as the state's regular expiration period and they carry the same compliant markings without adding any additional language.

What if an applicant states he or she has been in the United States for a number of years and does not have a valid passport?

Freely Associated States citizens that entered the United States legally years ago could have an expired passport. If this is the case, they'll need to get a valid one or another acceptable identity document, like an unexpired EAD, in order to get a document that’s REAL ID compliant.

What identity and lawful status documents will FAS citizens need to present in order to obtain a REAL ID compliant license?

Recently, DHS made it so FAS citizens can present an unexpired foreign passport with an approved I-94 and documentation of their most recent admission to the United States as acceptable document in order to get a REAL ID license or ID. They can also show other valid forms of identification, like: an unexpired visa or an unexpired employment authorization document. Regardless of what is presented, the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) will be used to verify everything.

What does the legislation do? Citizens of these countries are nonimmigrants and have only been issued temporary/limited term licenses in the past.

This legislation separates citizens of the Freely Associated States from the non-U.S. citizens who can only get a temporary REAL ID compliant driver's license or ID. With this amendment, citizens of the Freely Associated States who show acceptable and valid evidence of their identity and lawful status.

Issuance of REAL ID Compliant Documents to Citizens of the Freely Associated States

President Trump signed the REAL ID Act Modification for Freely Associated States Act, Public Law 115-323 on December 17, 2018. This Act amends the REAL ID Act of 2005 to authorize states to give full-term REAL ID driver's licenses and IDs to citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands who have been residing in the United States as non immigrants in accordance to a Compact of Free Association. They also need to meet the requirements for identification that's stated in the REAL ID Act.

Can a person who was granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) get a REAL ID-compliant license/ID? How long will it be valid?

Yes, a REAL ID compliant driver's license or ID can be given to a TPS beneficiary. Keep in mind, the Secretary of Homeland Security can choose certain countries for TPS due to various conditions or situations that temporarily stop the nationals of the country from being able to safely return or, sometimes, when a country can't afford for them to return. Not only can nationals who are already in the United States get TPS, but also those that have regularly resided in the designated country.

As for the time period for it to be valid, it's going to depend on how long the TPS period is. If DHS needs to extend or designate a TPS for a certain country, they can do so for 6 months or longer by going through a Federal Register Notice. While a TPS beneficiary's status is tied to the designated country, a temporary driver's license or ID that's issued to those with a pending TPS status can only be valid during the time period that the applicant is allowed to stay in the United States. If there isn't a specific timeline, it will be valid for a period of 1 year.

In order to assess compliance with the REAL ID act, there isn't a definite end to the period of an authorized stay if the person has: a form I-766, employment authorization document that contains a Category Code of A-12 or C-19 and a "Card Expires" date listed below.

  • 07/05/2016
  • 07/22/2017
  • 11/02/2017
  • 01/05/2018
  • 01/22/2018
  • 03/09/2018
  • 06/24/2018
  • 07/05/2018
  • 11/02/2018
  • 01/05/2019
  • 04/02/2019
  • 06/24/2019
  • 07/22/2019
  • 09/09/2019
  • 01/02/2020
  • 01/05/2020
  • 03/24/2020

According to the REAL ID Act of 2005, and EAD that has the above mentioned things is valid documentary evidence of TPS and is acceptable for REAL ID purposes.

How will the phase-out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program affect state issuance of driver's licenses and IDs to DACA beneficiaries?

According to the REAL ID act, those that provide proof that they have approved deferred action status, compliant states can issue them temporary REAL ID compliant driver's licenses and IDs. Under regulations in the REAL ID act, those who qualify for an approved deferred action status need to have valid Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)and Social Security Numbers (SSNs). The DACA Program made this process quicker and compliant states can continue to issue non compliant licenses and IDs with or without lawful status.

How does REAL ID implementation impact states that provide driver's licenses and IDs to certain non-citizens/undocumented immigrants?

With REAL ID, compliant states can still provide driver's licenses and ID cards when a person's identity can't be guaranteed or those that can't be guaranteed to actually have a lawful presence. Keep in mind, these can't be used for REAL ID purposes and the ID must have the following things: a statement that says they aren't accepted for REAL ID purposes and be a unique color or logo to tell them apart. Keep in mind, just because someone has a noncompliance card, it doesn't automatically mean they are undocumented.

Is DHS trying to build a national database with all of our information?

No, because REAL ID is a set of guidelines on the national level and not a national identification card. REAL ID doesn't keep a federal database of driver's licenses and each jurisdiction or area will continue to issue its own licenses, keep track of its own records and decide who gets to access that information, as well as what circumstances need to happen in order to do so. The whole purpose of REAL ID is to just make identity documents more consistent and secure.

What about non-DHS federal entities? What types of licenses and identification cards will they accept for access purposes?

Since federal agencies can set their own minimum requirements for security access, they can decide to not accept non-compliant cards before the deadline of October 1, 2020. In order to make sure you have the correct documents needed, it's important to contact the agency you plan on visiting before you go.

Keep in mind, the REAL ID act only applies when someone presents a state issued license or ID for official purposes. While a REAL ID card might not be required for things like driving, voting or banking, it's a good idea to check with the agency to see their specific requirements.

Will a federal agency accept my Enhanced Driver's License?

Yes. Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, State issued Enhanced Driver's Licenses are accepted for the purpose of border crossing. While individual policies for agencies may still apply, these are also acceptable forms of identification to enter federal buildings and boarding commercial airlines. The only states that currently issue EDLs are Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington. To get extra information, go to

What type of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards does the Department of Homeland Security currently accept as identification to access its buildings and facilities and at TSA airport security checkpoints?

Until October 1, 2020, DHS and its counterparts, like the TSA, will continue accepting ID cards and licenses that are state issued for all identification purposes. These will need to be issued by a compliant state, unless you get an extension from a state that is non-compliant.

Do I need a passport if I have a REAL ID?

If you're traveling domestically, you'll only need one valid identification form, such as your REAL ID card or another acceptable identification form. You won't need both. On the other hand, international travel will require you to still have and show your valid passport.

Can I use my REAL ID for sea (cruise) travel?

No, REAL ID cards cannot be used for this purpose.

Can I use my REAL ID card to cross the border into Canada and Mexico and for international travel?

No, REAL ID cards cannot be used for any of these purposes.

Is a passport my only other option for Travel with Real ID?

No, the TSA accepts several other documents that can prove your identity. To get more information and see what these other documents are, to to the TSA website at

What happens to travelers who show up without a compliant license? Will TSA turn them away?

Starting October 1, 2020, if a traveler does not show a license that’s compliant with the Act or acceptable alternative, they will not be allowed to pass through the security checkpoint.

Will minors need to have REAL IDs/ identification cards to fly domestically?

No, because the TSA doesn't require those that are under 18 to provide identification as long as they are traveling with someone else inside the United States. The adult will need proper and acceptable identification.

How will REAL ID change how I travel domestically?

Starting on October 1, 2020, anyone who wants to access federal facilities, nuclear power plants or board commercial aircraft needs to have a REAL ID compliant license/ID or have another identification form that’s acceptable. Unless they are providing another accepted form of identification, such as a state issued Enhanced Driver's License, the card must be compliant with the Act. Keep in mind, the Act doesn't require individuals to present identification where it's not required to access a federal facility, such as the public areas of various federal museums. It also doesn't stop any agency from accepting other forms of documents that show your identity, such as a US Passport.

How do I know if my license or identification card is REAL ID compliant?

Cards that are REAL ID compliant will have 1 of 5 markings on the upper part of the card. If the card doesn't have any of these, then it isn't compliant. The required markings are listed below.

  • A yellow star
  • A black star
  • A yellow circle with a hollow star in the middle
  • A black circle with a hollow star in the middle
  • A yellow bear with a hollow star on it's hind quarters
How do I get a REAL ID?

Visit your state's licensing agency to see the exact requirements, but most will require documentation that shows: your full legal name, date of birth, social security number, two proofs of address and lawful status. Some states may have additional requirements, so double check to be sure.

Are all states issuing REAL ID compliant cards?

DHS is working with all territories and states to make sure they are compliant with the REAL ID Act. As of September 5, 2019, 50 territories and states are completely compliant and should be ready to start issuing the REAL ID identification cards by the October 1, 2020 deadline.

What happens on May 1, 2025, with REAL IDs?

All federal organizations, including the TSA and DHS, can only accept state identification forms if a REAL ID-compliant state issued them. These forms of identification must be in line with the REAL ID standards and have a star marking that proves it’s REAL ID compliant. While most enhanced driver's licenses(EDL) don't have the star marking, they are acceptable if they are from these states: Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont.

When will REAL ID be enforced?

The deadline for enforcement is October 1, 2020. By this date, states need to be issuing identification that's compliant with the REAL ID Act. Also, if someone wants to fly on commercial airlines or want to get into facilities that are federal, they need to visit their state's driver's license agency and get a REAL ID compliant card or another accepted option, like a US Passport.

What is REAL ID?

The REAL ID act was passed by Congress in 2005 and put into effect the 9/11 Commission's advice for federal government to impose guidelines in relation to the issuance of identification, such as a driver’s license. The Act has put in a certain level of security guidelines for all identification that’s issued by the state. It also stops the federal government from accepting forms of identifications from states that don't meet these requirements for official purposes. These specific purposes are:

  • Getting access to Federal facilities
  • Boarding aircraft that's federally regulated
  • Entering nuclear power plants