Do you need a star on your driver’s license to fly?

Do you need a star on your driver’s license to fly?

Copy of Texas Driver's License with a gold star on it

 

From October 2020, federal agencies will no longer accept identification cards and driver licenses issued at the state level without stars on them.

 

Not everyone owns a passport, which is a federally issued document, especially if they are not international travelers. For domestic flights, a state-issued document like a driver’s license is all you need.

 

However, according to a law called the REAL ID Act, air travelers in the United States require a driver’s license that complies with the Real ID requirements when traveling within the United States of America.

Other documents that people will be able to use are passports or the U.S. Military card. Most people use a driver’s license to get through security though. This law means that your driver’s license MUST comply with TSA’s requirements for you to fly domestically. A complying license will have a star on it. Does yours?  

 

The U.S. Congress introduced this law in 2005 after the 9/11 event. It was one of the security measures set forth in the wake of one of the most significant attacks against the United States of America on its own land. It is meant to set minimum standards of security for identification documents issued at the source. These documents include identification cards and driver’s licenses. 

 

From October 2020, federal agencies will no longer accept identification cards and driver licenses issued at the state level without a star on them. It is important to remember that airports are federal facilities. As such, your domestic travels in the USA will be limited to your compliance with the Act.  

 

Does Your Driver’s License Have a Star On It?


To check whether your license has a star on it, check near the top right corner of the card. The star will either be gold or black. 

 

Some states already have enhanced driver’s licenses that comply with the Real ID requirements. Such enhanced licenses do not have a star, but they have the United States of America flag on them. Some of the states that issue both the enhanced driver’s licenses and the Real ID include New York, Minnesota, Vermont, and Michigan. Washington, DC, only issue an enhanced driver’s license, which is also acceptable. 

  

There are other states that already have driver’s licenses that do not have a star but comply with the other requirements from TSA and Homeland Security Agency. These states include Hawaii, Utah, Ohio, and Tennessee. If you are from these states, it is highly recommended that you confirm with your state whether you will need a replacement or not. 

 

You can also tell if your identification card or driver’s license meets the requirements of the Act by checking if it has any of the two phrases below:

  • Federal Limits Apply
  • Not for Federal Identification


What does a star on your driver’s license mean?

The star on your driver’s license certifies that you have met the Real ID Act requirements. This means that the citizenship of the holder has been verified by a state department like the DMV that issued the ID. 

 

How do you get the star on your driver’s license?

The star is given during the application of the state-issued documents. You will need to present more identification documents during your application for your citizenship to be verified. These documents can include your birth certificate, proof of your residential address, and your social security card.

 

If you have a driver’s license without a star, you will need to visit the DMV in your state to replace it with one that has a star.

Additional information can be found on the Department of Homeland Security’s site here: state compliance and state implementation

If you have additional questions, the Department of Homeland Security has a great FAQ here. and this video below.

 

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Why do my Ankles and Feet Swell When I Fly on a Plane?

Why do my Ankles and Feet Swell When I Fly on a Plane?

woman holding feet that hurt from a flight on an airplane

 

Many people experience feet or ankles swelling when they fly because sitting for an extended period with your feet on the floor like you do on a plane, makes it hard for blood to flow freely in your legs, which then leads to pooling of the blood in the veins of your legs.

In addition to this, this position also increases the pressure in the veins of your legs. When this happens, blood and other fluids move into the surrounding soft tissues, which in turn causes the swelling some people experience in their feet and/or ankles why they fly. This condition is referred to as gravitational edema and is typically harmless and usually only lasts for a short time once you land.

A few things you can do to take care of your feet and ankles

Don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to help remedy your swollen feet and swollen ankles before, during and after you fly. They are pretty simple and just take a little planning ahead. 

Before Your Flight

  • Wear loose clothes like dresses or sweat pants when you fly.
  • Try to be active in your daily life. Travelers who exercise more in their life are less likely to experience this phenomenon compared to those without an active life.   
  • Seek medical attention before flying if you are at risk of getting blood clots. 
  • Get yourself a pair of compression socks. Compression socks are used to improve the flow of blood, reduce pain and swelling, and to lower the chances of contracting deep vein thrombosis.  
  • Put on comfortable shoes like a pair of flats, sandals or tennis shoes that have plenty of room for your feet. 
  • Drink plenty of water the day of your flight.

During Your Flight

  • Do not sit for more than an hour during your flight. Try to walk up and down the aisle every hour or so to relieve the pressure on your legs. 
  • Do not cross your legs for long periods of time. This restricts the flow of blood throughout your legs. 
  • Shift and change your sitting position as much as possible. 
  • When seated, try to extend and flex your knees, calf muscles, and ankles frequently. 
  • Dehydration will also lead to swelling, so try to stay hydrated throughout the flight. 
  • While drinking fluids during the flight is highly recommended, avoid alcoholic drinks or taking any sedatives. They will make you unsteady and even sleepy, making it difficult for you to move around the aisle.

After Your Flight

If you have a layover, try not to sit down again once you have deplaned. Walk around the terminal to exercise your legs and relieve the pressure. If you need to sit down, find an elevated place for you to put your feet up or a place to keep your legs stretched.

If you were in laced shoes, loosen your shoelaces and try to massage your feet by pressing the soles.

Another solution to relieve the swelling is by soaking your feet in lukewarm water with Epsom salts for 15-20 minutes. After that, try massaging your feet lightly and keep them in an elevated position when you are seated or lying down.

 

If you experience leg pain when flying

If you already know you will experience pain in your legs when flying, you can start by upgrading to a seat with sufficient room when checking in. If none are available, request for a seat next to an exit row. This will give you more room to stretch your legs during the flight. 

Additionally, keep flexing and rotating your feet and ankles, and walk around the cabin every 30-minutes or so. Combine these things with the suggestions above and it should help. I really like using compression socks and have loved these ones.

 

When to get medical help

After landing and resuming your regular activities, your feet and ankles should be back to normal within a few hours. If this does not happen, especially if you are experiencing pain of any kind, then seek medical advice. This could be a sign of more severe issues like deep vein thrombosis, which occurs when there are blood clots in your legs. 

 

Seek medical attention if 

  • Swollen legs don’t return to their normal size within a few hours
  • If only one leg or ankle swells
  • You experience shortness of breath or chest pains in addition to pain or swelling

 

Hopefully, you have found this article helpful. There are things you can do to help your feet and ankles when you fly from becoming swollen. They might seem like a bother, but they will help. If you try them and are still having issues, definitely see a medical professional for personalized advice.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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