AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – On May 3, 2023, US travelers will need an updated driver’s license or identification card in order to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities. While that deadline may be a bit more than six months away, many officials have recommended starting the process sooner rather than later.

As previously reported, the REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 with the intention of enacting certain minimum federal security standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards. The cards that are in compliance with the REAL ID Act will have a star added as a feature, which can have five separate appearances.

Below, we have compiled a few common questions about the REAL ID cards, as well as a few other things that Texans should know about the process and upcoming deadline.

What is a REAL ID? What does it look like?

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the REAL ID Act was passed in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The law requires states to adopt and implement uniform standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards if they are to be accepted by the federal government. The measures were intended to reduce identity fraud and terrorism.

Texas started issuing REAL ID-compliant cards on Oct. 10, 2016, which are marked with a gold circle with an inset star found in the upper right-hand corner.

Examples of Real ID compliant licenses, via the Texas Department of Public Safety.

If you replaced or renewed your card after Oct. 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.

Do I have to update my current ID?

Texas DPS said that all Texas driver’s licenses and ID cards are valid until the expiration date shown on the card. If your card does not have the star signifying that it is REAL ID compliant, it can still be used until its expiration date after May 3, 2023. However, it will only be accepted for state-related purposes such as driving, banking, and voting. It will not be accepted as an ID for federal purposes, like entering a federal courthouse or going through airport security.

If you want to board a domestic flight or enter certain federal buildings using your Texas ID card, you’ll need to make sure it’s Real ID compliant after the May deadline. (You can still use federal forms of ID, like a passport, if you have one.)

How much does a REAL ID cost in Texas?

According to Texas DPS, driver’s license fees for Class A, B, or C licenses range from free to around $33. These prices include:

  • Free | Disabled veterans (60%): new or renewal
  • $9 | Age 85 and older: new or renewal
  • $11 | Replacement driver’s license
  • $16 | Under 18: Learner license or new license
  • $33 | Age 18 to 84: New or renewal

Who can get a REAL ID?

DPS said that Texas ID cards are valid for up to six years for Texas residents. Anyone who applies for an ID card will need to provide proof of citizenship or residency, identity, and social security number. Because of that, people with legal status in the US are able to get a REAL ID, including:

  • Naturalized citizens
  • Permanent residents
  • Immigrants with asylee or refugee status
  • People with non-immigrant visas
  • People in the US with a pending application for protected status

Because of the requirements, undocumented immigrants will not be able to get a REAL ID.

How do I get a REAL ID?

To receive a REAL ID in Texas, you will need to:

  1. Complete the ID card application (these are also available at all driver’s license offices)
  2. Make an appointment at a driver’s license office
  3. Provide the needed documentation to the license and permit specialist:
    • Application for the ID card
    • US Citizenship or lawful presence
    • Texas Residency
    • Identity
    • Social Security Number
  4. Provide your signature for your ID card
  5. Provide your thumbprints
  6. Have your picture taken
  7. Pay the application fee

Once that’s finished, you’ll receive a temporary ID card and your new card will arrive in the mail in around four to six weeks. The mailing status of your ID card can be checked here.

However, temporary visitors and foreign students applying for a Texas ID card need to meet additional requirements.

What documents are accepted as proof of identity?

In Texas, there are three ways a person can verify their identity when applying for a driver’s license or ID card:

  • Providing one “Primary Identity Document”
  • Providing two “Secondary Identity Documents”
  • Providing one “Secondary Identity Document” and two “Supporting Identity Documents”

Primary identity documents can include:

  • Texas driver’s license or ID card that has not expired for more than two years
  • Valid U.S. passport
  • U.S. Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization with an identifiable photo
  • Unexpired Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services document with verifiable data and an identifiable photo
  • Valid, unexpired foreign passport with an attached visa
  • Unexpired U.S. military ID card for active duty, reserve or retired personnel with an identifiable photo

Secondary identity documents can include:

  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a State Bureau of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency from a U.S. state, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia or a Canadian province
  • For U.S. citizens born abroad – Original or certified copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) or Certificate of Report of Birth issued by the U.S. Department of State
  • Original or certified copy of a court order with name and date of birth indicating a name and/or gender change from a U.S. state, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia or a Canadian province

Supporting identity documents can include:

  • Social security card (actual card)
  • A driver’s license or ID card issued by another U.S. state, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia or Canadian province that is either valid or has not been expired for more than two years
  • Texas driver’s license or ID card that has not been expired for more than two years
  • Temporary Texas driver license or ID card
  • School records such as report cards or photo ID cards
  • Valid Texas Voter registration card
  • Concealed handgun license or license to carry
  • Government agency ID card
  • Immunization records
  • Medicare or Medicaid card
  • Valid Texas vehicle registration or title
  • Valid Texas boat registration or title
  • Veteran’s ID card issued by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Hospital-issued birth record
  • Military records

What documents are accepted as proof of residency?

To verify Texas residency, a person needs to present two printed accepted documents, and both need to contain the person’s name and residential address. One of the documents needs to verify that they have lived in Texas for at least 30 days unless they are surrendering a valid driver’s license or ID from another state or applying for a commercial driver’s license. Those documents can include:

  • Current deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet, or a residential rental/lease agreement
  • Texas voter registration card
  • Texas vehicle registration or title
  • Texas concealed handgun license or license to carry
  • Utility or residential service bill dated within 90 days of the date of application
  • Selective Service card
  • Current automobile, homeowner’s, or renter’s insurance policy, statement, or card
  • Mail or printed electronic statements from financial institutions; including checking, savings, investment account and credit card statements dated within 90 days of the date of application
  • Medical or health card
  • Pre-printed paycheck or payment stub dated within 90 days of the application date

People who are not able to provide two acceptable documents might be eligible to complete a Texas Residency Affidavit.

A full brochure of acceptable documents for verifying identity, residency, and Social Security Number in Texas can be found here.

When do I need to apply for a REAL ID to meet the deadline?

In Texas, new ID cards tend to arrive in the mail around four to six weeks after the application process is completed. To allow for about six weeks in the mail, you may want to apply by the end of March 2023. If your license is set to expire in the next few months, most state-level officials have said it’s alright to wait until closer to that date. However, especially since some officials believe they’ll see a rush of REAL ID applications in the spring, starting the process sooner rather than later may help avoid delays.

For further information about REAL IDs, you can visit the TSA’s website, DHS’s website, or contact your local DMV.