What You Need to Know About Real ID Before You Travel | Chicago News

In less than seven months, all Americans flying domestically will need a federally accepted form of ID – that means a Real ID or a passport is required to travel.

Congress passed legislation requiring all 50 U.S. states to adapt a federally accepted state ID in 2005 with the intention of boosting security standards in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security had previously set a date for October 2020, but due to the pandemic the deadline was pushed to Oct. 1 of this year – weeks before millions of Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving.

All Americans flying domestically will need a federally accepted form of ID – that means a Real ID or a passport is required to travel by October 2021. (WTTW News)

The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State’s website lays out the required documents and application process for obtaining a Real ID.

A Real ID or passport will also be required for entering military bases, federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

Illinois Secretary of State press secretary Henry Haupt advises first considering whether a Real ID is necessary before applying. 

“Not everyone necessarily needs one. And Illinois residents have a choice. If, for instance, you’re someone who does not fly domestically and you don’t visit secure federal facilities, you don’t necessarily need a Real ID,” Haupt says. “You may just want to renew your standard driver’s license or standard ID card when they come to it to their expiration dates. In addition to that, as you had mentioned earlier, if you have a valid U. S. passport or a military ID, you don’t necessarily need a Real ID.” 

Haupt also suggests those applying for a Real ID should check the website if they have any questions about the documentation required, including resources in Spanish. 

“We do ask people to go to our website because there are a number of documents you can bring in beyond just the ones that I reference that will satisfy each category. And I do want to highlight at the end of the interactive document checklist you can actually print each of the documents are going to bring in,” he says. “When you hit print, it will be a one-page document highlighting everything you were going to bring in. It’s kind of like an easy cheat sheet for you to utilize.”

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