The US Department of Homeland Security has implemented a system of improved identification know as REAL ID. By October 1, 2020 a REAL ID will be required to board any domestic or international flight, enter a US federal building or military base.
Each state is working to bring their licensing and ID process to conform to REAL ID standards. Essentially, to obtain a REAL ID, applicants must establish proof of identity, state residency, U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S. As of October 2016 Texas began issuing REAL ID compliant drivers licenses and ID cards. These cards are recognized by a gold star in the upper right-hand corner of the license or ID card.
If you have renewed your license in-person after 2016, you probably already have a REAL ID compliant card. Look for the gold star in the corner to verify this. Online, telephone or mail renewals are NOT eligible for REAL ID status. So if you have only renewed online in the last few years, and you want to be eligible to pass through TSA security checkpoints at the airport, you should start planning on scheduling a visit to a DPS office and collecting the proper paperwork.
REAL ID checklist
- make an appointment at the DPS office https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/dlfork.aspx?action=renew
- original birth certificate or passport
- Social Security Card or equivalent
- previous Texas drivers license with current physical address OR
- 2 proofs of address such as lease, utility bill, voter registration card, pay stub, bank statement or official mail showing current physical address
- payment of standard renewal fee