Floridians Planning A Flight on or After October 1, 2021 Should Make Sure They’re REAL ID Compliant

You’ll need a REAL ID driver’s license to fly domestically in the U.S. beginning in October

Check your driver’s license for the REAL ID gold star in the upper right-hand corner

After a yearlong delay due to COVID-19, the REAL ID Act’s provisions regarding domestic air travel will finally take effect on October 1, 2021, impacting residents nationwide as air travel continues to increase, said Tax Collector Scott Randolph, whose office issues driver’s licenses and state IDs in Orange County.

Beginning October 1, 2021, all residents ages 18 and older will need to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or state ID – indicated by a gold star in the upper right-hand corner of the credential – or another acceptable form of identification, such as a passport, in order to fly commercially within the United States. To fly internationally, cross the border into Canada or Mexico, and enter an international port, residents will still need to present a passport.

“The vast majority of Florida’s 17.7 million drivers are already REAL ID compliant,” Tax Collector Scott Randolph said. “But there are still hundreds of thousands who are not, including 50,000 Orange County residents who will need to update their license or ID if they’re planning to fly this fall.”

The REAL ID Act was originally scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2020, but the deadline was extended by one year by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 26, 2020 due to COVID-19.

According to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data, U.S. air travel has steadily increased over the last few months. Friday, April 2, 2021 was the busiest air travel day since the pandemic began, with 1,580,785 passengers passing through TSA checkpoints nationwide compared to 129,763 on that same day in 2020 and 2,476,884 in 2019. (Source: https://www.tsa.gov/coronavirus/passenger-throughput)

Florida counties with the highest number of non-REAL ID credentials (Source: DHSMV, February 2021)

Miami-Dade 145,367
Broward 122,426
Palm Beach 71,971
Hillsborough 70,591
Orange 58,802
Pinellas 51,058
Duval 41,835
Polk 31,850
Brevard 31,475

Not sure if you have a REAL ID?

Check your driver’s license or state ID card for a gold star in the upper right-hand corner. If it’s there, that means you’re REAL ID compliant and no further action is required until your license is up for renewal. All credential holders under the age of 21 are already REAL ID compliant.

If you don’t see a gold star, you’ll need to visit your local tax collector office in order to update your driver’s license or ID, and bring in three categories of documents to prove your identity, including:

  1. Primary Identification. Original U.S. birth certificate, valid U.S. passport or proof of legal presence;
  2. Proof of Social Security Number. Original Social Security Card, W-2 form or paycheck; and
  3. Two Proofs of Residential Address. Such as a vehicle registration or title, voter registration card, utility bill, mortgage statement or residential lease agreement.

For a full list of acceptable documents, visit https://www.octaxcol.com/whattobring/.

Appointments are required in Orange County. To schedule a driver’s license appointment in Orange County, visit octaxcol.com.


According to the Department of Homeland Security, the federal REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and ID cards from states that do not meet these standards.  These purposes include accessing federal facilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, and entering nuclear power plants.

REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions

Will minors need a REAL ID driver’s license or ID to fly domestically?

No. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. The companion will need acceptable identification.

Is a passport my only other option?

No. TSA will accept other forms of identity, but the most easily obtained credential is a driver’s license or ID from your local tax collector. For more information on acceptable forms of identification for boarding aircraft, visit TSA’s website at tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.

Do I need a passport if I have a REAL ID?

If you are traveling internationally you will still need your passport. If you are traveling domestically, you will only need one valid form of identification – either your REAL ID or another acceptable alternative, such as a passport, but not both.

Can I use my REAL ID to cross the border into Canada and Mexico and for international travel?

No. REAL ID cards cannot be used for border crossings into Canada, Mexico or other international travel.