Getting the gold star

If you want to fly, you’ll soon have to abide with REAL ID

This is a sample copy of how a REAL-ID marked Iowa driver’s license looks. Note the gold star in the upper right hand corner of the license designating it as a REAL ID, necessary for use if Iowans wish to travel on commercial airlines after October of 2020.

When they look at their Iowa driver’s license, many Central Iowans will find a gold star in the upper right-hand corner, and that designation will become more significant in the coming years.

“You don’t have to have that gold star quite yet,” said Iowa Department of Transportation Director of Strategic Communication Andrea Henry of the REAL ID, an identification designation which will be required to fly on commercial aircraft as of Oct. 1, 2020.

The REAL ID designation will also be required to enter nuclear power facilities and federal buildings that require ID to enter.

“Basically, folks in Iowa are fine, because Iowa is a REAL ID-compliant state,” Henry said, adding Iowans needing to fly commercially, enter certain federal buildings or nuclear power facilities will need to have a REAL ID-marked driver’s license or ID card as of October 1, 2020, according to the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.

The 2020 date will be the final stage set forth in that legislation, which continues to be implemented in states across the country. The DOT began issuing REAL ID-compliant cards on Jan 15, 2013.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) webpage on REAL ID, the law was enacted as a response to a 9/11 Commission recommendation to set standards for the issuance of identification, like driver’s licenses.

In Iowa, many people may find that they already have the REAL ID gold star mark on their license. Some others do not have the designation, and Henry laid out the necessary steps to getting that gold star.

“It’s very similar to the very first time you go and get your driver’s license or ID; you have to bring several documents with you to prove your identity,” she said. “You need to prove your identity once again, so it’s a little more intensive that just, say, going in to get your license renewed.”

A person’s non-REAL ID license would not qualify as proof of identity as a result, Henry said. Instead, she said proof of name, Social Security number, residence in the state and more must be brought, in-person, to an Iowa driver’s license station.

After a license becomes REAL ID-compliant, the holder would continue to renew the license as normal.

“I think the biggest thing to know is it’s simple to do, you need to do it in-person,” Henry said.

She emphasized that, even after the October 2020 date, Iowans will not be required to get a REAL ID-designated card or license.

“If you don’t have a need to fly commercially or enter a federal building or nuclear power facility, you could choose to never get a REAL ID-compliant ID,” she said. “However, if you do want to do one of those things after Oct. 1 of 2020, you will need to have that REAL ID-marked card.”

Normal functions of a driver’s license will continue to be valid without the REAL ID designation, including lawful driving, purchasing alcohol or tobacco, renting a vehicle, writing a check or entering a casino.

Alternative forms of federal identification include a valid U.S. Passport or passport card, a permanent resident card, military ID and others, according to the DOT website.

For more information on REAL ID, visit https://iowadot.gov/mvd/realid/real-id-home and https://iowadot.gov/mvd/realid/success.aspx


Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com