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Federal Real ID Act

REAL ID poster (PDF)

The Texas Department of Public Safety is committed to protecting the citizens of Texas by only licensing individuals who are properly identified and can demonstrate their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on public roadways.

The United States Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The REAL ID Act requires states to adopt and implement uniform standards for the issuance and production of state-issued driver licenses and identification cards if they are to be accepted as identity documents by the federal government. This Act strengthens the integrity and security of state-issued cards in an effort to reduce identity fraud and terrorism.

Beginning October 1, 2020, only state-issued driver licenses and identification cards that are fully compliant with the REAL ID Act will be accepted for official federal government purposes, such as entering secure federal buildings or boarding domestic flights. Texas began issuing REAL ID compliant cards on October 10, 2016, and these cards are marked with a gold circle with an inset star located in the upper right-hand corner, as seen in the examples below.


All Texas driver licenses and identification cards, both compliant (star) and non-compliant (no star) are valid until the expiration date shown on the card. If you replaced or renewed your card after October 10, 2016, and have a gold star in the right-hand corner, your card is REAL ID compliant and no further action is required on your part. You may continue to use your compliant card for federal identification purposes until it expires.

If your card does not have the star, you can continue to use the card after October 1, 2020, but it will only be accepted for state-related purposes such as driving (driver license only), banking, and voting. It will not be accepted as identification for federal purposes.

To determine what documents you will need for the issuance of a REAL ID compliant driver license or identification card, visit our REAL ID Document Check Application or download and one of the following checklists that apply to you.

To order a certified copy of your Texas birth certificate, or if you were born in Texas and never issued a birth certificate, you may contact the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for assistance.

Select one of the images below for more information.

If DSHS is unable to provide you with a certified copy of your Texas birth certificate and you are unable to present another official document proving your identity or U.S. Citizenship, please send an email to REALID@dps.texas.gov. Be sure to include your full name, date of birth, and a telephone contact number where you can be reached.

For additional information on the REAL ID Act, how it may impact you, and renewing or replacing your card, visit our Frequently Asked Questions below.

    1. What is REAL ID?

REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to combat terrorism, identity theft, and other crimes by strengthening the integrity, accuracy, and security of the driver license and identification card issuance process. The REAL ID Act was part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and the Tsunami Relief Act and was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005.


    2. How did the REAL ID Act impact the Texas driver license and identification card issuance process?

The REAL ID Act established new minimum issuance standards, which include:

  • Requiring proof of identity, date of birth, social security number, lawful status, and primary residence address
  • Verifying the authenticity of the documents presented for issuance
  • Incorporating additional security features into the card, and
  • Increasing security and privacy of personal information collected during the issuance process.

The Texas driver license and identification card issuance process is in compliance with these standards. These requirements are not based upon age, but for providing for the security of the driver license and identification card issuance process.


    3. Is Texas compliant with the REAL ID Act?

Yes, Texas has implemented all of the security standards required by the REAL ID Act and began issuing REAL ID compliant DL/ID cards on October 10, 2016. The Texas REAL ID compliant-card is marked with a circle with an inset star located in the upper right corner of the card.


    4. How does Texas complying with the REAL ID Act benefit me?

Texans are able to use their current driver license or identification card for federal identification purposes for boarding domestic flights, entering federal facilities, and other official federal purposes.


    5. What would have happened if Texas had chosen not to comply with the REAL ID Act?

After October 1, 2020, Texas DL/ID cards would not be accepted for federal identification purposes, and Texas residents would not be able to enter federal facilities or board a domestic flight unless they had another form of identification acceptable for federal purposes, such as a U.S. Passport.


    6. What do I need to do?

Because Texas is in compliance with the REAL ID Act, all Texas driver licenses and identification cards are currently valid forms of identification for federal purposes.

If your card expires before October 1, 2022, and you don't have a star in the upper right-hand corner, renew your driver license or identification card before the October 1, 2020 deadline. You are eligible to renew up to two years in advance of your card's expiration date.

If your card expires after October 1, 2022, and you want a REAL ID compliant card, you can request a duplicate card either in person or through Texas.gov. If you have been issued a card on or after October 10, 2016, and see a gold star in the upper right hand corner, you already have a REAL ID Act compliant card, and no further action is required on your part.

If you received your renewal notice in the mail, be sure to bring the required documents that are listed in your renewal notice. If you did not receive a renewal notice, are obtaining a replacement, or are not sure what to bring with you, download this checklist (PDF) to determine which documents you may have that will meet these requirements. While these documents may already be on file with the Department, bringing them with you will minimize any delays in renewing or replacing your driver license or identification card.

To determine if you are eligible to renew online or need to obtain a replacement card, visit www.texas.gov.


    7. Why was a notice mailed to me asking me to renew early?

Notices are being sent out reminding customers that they can renew their DL or ID card up to two years in advance of expiration to provide customers with plenty of notice to receive a REAL ID compliant card by the October 1, 2020 deadline if they want one.


    8. I don't fly on domestic flights or visit federal facilities. Do I still need to get a compliant card?

No. As long as your existing Texas DL is still valid and not expired, it is acceptable for driving on any public roadway nationwide, and an identification card will continue to be valid for non-federal identification purposes. However, when you renew again, you will receive a REAL ID compliant card.


    9. I have both a Texas driver license and identification card. Can I keep both?

No. REAL ID and Texas law only permits a person to hold a driver license or identification card, but not both. You can view the law by visiting Texas Transportation Code Section 521.183.


    10. Does the REAL ID Act create a national database of driver information?

No. Driver information is securely maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety and is not entered into a national database.


    11. Do REAL ID compliant marked cards contain an electronic chip?

No. Texas driver licenses and identification cards do not contain an electronic chip. Some states issue an enhanced driver license or identification card that contains an RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chip to assist with rapid identification checks at federal border checkpoints. Texas does not participate in this program.


    12. What happens if I do not currently have a REAL ID compliant Texas driver license or identification card and do nothing until after October 1, 2020?

If your driver license is still valid, you may continue to use it for non-federal purposes, such as operating a motor vehicle, voting, or banking. You will not be able to use it for federal identification purposes, such as boarding domestic flights or entering secure federal facilities, after October 1, 2020.  If you attempt to present a non-compliant Texas driver license or identification card after October 1, 2020, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or other federal agency responsible for security will determine whether to permit you access/entrance or subject you to additional screening as prescribed by that agency.

Additional information regarding the REAL ID Act can be found on the DHS website.


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