On October 1, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement the final phase of REAL ID enforcement, requiring Americans to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of authenticated ID to go through airport security checkpoints. 

Are you ready for REAL ID?


REAL ID refers to a set of security standards established by Congress in 2005 for card issuance, card design and application processing that individual states must follow when issuing driver’s licenses and other forms of identification; most REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses feature a star in the upper-right corner. However, some states (MI, MN, NY, VT and WA) are issuing enhanced driver’s licenses either instead of or in addition to REAL IDs, which are generally designated by a U.S. flag. 

However, an estimated 99 million Americans (39%) do not have any form of identification (e.g. REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID or an enhanced driver’s license) that will be accepted after October 1, 2021. Furthermore, the majority of Americans (57%) are unaware of the October 1, 2021 deadline for enforcement. Air travel risks being seriously disrupted if millions of passengers are turned away on October 1, 2021 for not having the necessary documents to fly.

The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau is working with the larger travel industry and our government partners to educate Massachusetts travelers on REAL ID enforcement. Policy changes that allow alternative forms of authentication in place of a REAL ID at airport security checkpoints—including biometric screening and existing enrollment in Trusted Traveler Programs—can help mitigate the effects of REAL ID enforcement, while also ensuring a secure and efficient screening process. 

It is our desire that all air travelers flying within the U.S. secure a REAL ID compliant form of identification well ahead of next year’s deadline in order to keep the air travel process moving without disruption.

REAL ID enforcement is coming—let’s make sure we’re all prepared.


Learn more about becoming REAL ID ready.