What is a Real ID, and why you will eventually need one to travel.

January 01, 2023


In 2005, congress passed a Real ID standard which sets minimum security standards for states issuing licenses.  This was done to bolster security after 9/11.  This requirement was scheduled to take effect as far back as 2008 and has been pushed several times.  The latest push gave a deadline of 2023 for a Real ID standard.  However, citing Covid delays, the newest pushback on implementation has been set for May 7, 2025.  This means that every traveler must present a compliant form of Real ID for domestic travel on that date.

If you are a frequent international traveler, you most likely will always have your passport when you travel, regardless of your destination.  The US passport is considered a Real ID, and for many travelers, this is the standard ID used when traveling.  But even with official passports, many travelers find it easier to present their driver’s license as ID when going through security.  Once Real ID standards are enforced, this will no longer be allowed if your state driver’s license is not Real ID compliant.  The three forms of ID that will be federally compliant for travel are the Real ID, your passport, and your passport card.  These IDs will be valid for travel by land, sea, and air, as well as internationally and domestically.  However, please note that the passport card is only valid for sea and land and is not accepted by every country.

It is my recommendation that if you plan to travel, even though it is not international travel, to get your passport.  An official US passport will get you through airport security and can be used in place of a Real ID.  Passports have standard identification information such as passport number, name, birthdate, and birthplace.  When presented with a passport, border officials at any destination can access the information they need regardless of language, origin, or destination.  When applying for a US passport, there is also an option to get a passport card simultaneously.  I highly recommend adding the card during the application process.

The passport card has the same identification information and is easier to carry in your wallet or purse when traveling.  I find the card particularly convenient on some cruises as it is much easier to travel with and can be used as an ID when getting on and off the ship during stopovers.  However, the passport card does have limitations, as mentioned before.  They are only accepted for land and sea crossings between the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.  In case of an unexpected travel delay from a cruise at a foreign port, the passport card will not be enough for air travel, and you will have difficulties and delays getting back to the US.  One never knows when an emergency will arise, and you may need to get off a ship due to illness or an injury.

If you plan to do any travel, please consider getting your passport.  It will become invaluable not only for international travel but domestically as well.  Additionally, whether your state ID or driver’s license may or may not be Real ID compliant, you can be assured your passport will be.

This blog post may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive a small incentive at no expense to you if you choose to purchase something mentioned in this blog. This helps me continue to create content. It is my promise to only recommend things I have personally used and found valuable. Read full disclaimer →

Get an inside peek into my life & 
travel stories not seen in my blog.

I share the realities and nuances that come with being a Black woman on the move.

Meet your travel expert

Hi, I’m Donna

As a woman of color, I navigate the world of travel with a distinct lens.

I am thrilled to bring you my wealth of knowledge and firsthand experiences from my 23-year journey as a former flight attendant and seasoned traveler. Through my blog, I aim to shed light on the diverse challenges, triumphs, and hidden gems that I encounter along my journey.

More about Donna →

Buy Me a Coffee and Support My Journey!

Fuel the inspiration behind my blog by buying me a coffee. Your support helps me continue creating unique content and sharing valuable travel insights. Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey!

The Lived Travel Experience
“Make the plan, take the trip!”

Continue reading

You might also enjoy these blog posts:

Browse by topic or category:


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don't miss this!

Grab my FREE Travel Checklist

I sharing my personal travel checklist from years of experience as a flight attendant. Get my tips on what you need to check before traveling, packing tips and more.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This