You don’t need a gold star on your NC driver’s license or ID to fly today, but you will. Residents of the state of North Carolina must obtain their state IDs and driver’s licenses with a star in a gold circle by May 7, 2025. After that, federal agencies will no longer accept identification cards and driver licenses issued at the state level without stars on them for passengers older than 18 years old. This is an extension from the original October 2021 date due to the COVID pandemic.
Department of Homeland Security’s Alejandro Mayorkas recently stated, “Extending the Real ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has stated that those without a star on their cards can continue to use their cards after May 7, 2025, but they will only be accepted for state-related purposes like driving, accessing hospitals, visiting the post office, applying for or receiving social security or veterans’ benefits, or banking transactions. For federal purposes, this identification will not be able to be used.
Not everyone in North Carolina has a passport, especially if they don’t travel internationally. For domestic flights, a state-issued document like a driver’s license is all you need to fly.
However, according to a law called the REAL ID Act, air travelers in the United States will be required to use a driver’s license that complies with the Real ID requirements when traveling within the United States of America beginning May 7th, 2025.
Other documents that people will be able to use are passports or their U.S. Military cards. Most people use their license to get through security on domestic flights 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?
Related: Do You Need A Gold Star On Driver’s License Or ID To Fly?
Additionally, a REAL ID will be required to enter federal facilities in addition to the current identification requirements.
This is one of the new minimum security standards that will be used in federal buildings as well. As such, your domestic flight in the US will require a REAL ID.
Here is a great video on it from the Department of Homeland Security
Do you need a star on your license to fly in North Carolina?
Real ID will be required for all Americans after May 7, 2025. This includes North Carolinians. The gold star indicates that your license has been certified as compliant with Federal REAL ID standards by the Department of Homeland Security.
As of May 7th, 2025, at least one REAL ID compliant credential or another form of identification will be required for domestic flights on commercial airlines in North Carolina.
What does an NC REAL ID look like?
Every driver’s license issued in North Carolina after April 2017 is REAL ID compliant, and the upper right-hand corner will display either a black or gold star.
Does your NC driver’s license have a star on it?
To check whether you have a real id compliant driver’s license, check near the upper right-hand corner of your card. It will be a gold circle with a white star in it.
If your license isn’t from NC and it doesn’t have a star in the upper right corner, know that some states already have enhanced their licenses to 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 or say “Enhanced”.
Your license or ID does not meet the requirements if it has any of the two phrases below:
“Federal Limits Apply”
“Not For Federal Identification”
“Not For Federal Purposes”
How to get the gold star on your North
You will receive it on your new license when you renew your ID before the May 2025 deadline.
You may need to present more identification documents to get a REAL-ID compliant NC driver license or ID to be verified. These required documents include:
- Your social security
- An unexpired U.S. passport card or book, or the original of your Birth Certificate
- Title or registration for a North Carolina vehicle
- Legal documents proving your name change from your birth name if your name has changed
- Policy or statement from your current car insurance company
Just call or visit your local DMV to replace your old one with one that is certified REAL ID.
There is a full comprehensive list from the NCDOT at the bottom of this article.
How much does it cost to get a North Carolina REAL ID card?
A REAL ID costs the exact same as a regular driver’s license if you are renewing one, $40. If You’re not renewing one, the REAL ID costs $13, the same as a duplicate license.
You will not be charged an additional fee when converting your state ID or license into a REAL ID during the normal renewal process.
This new ID will replace your existing driver’s license and is good for at least eight years.
What does a gold star on your North Carolina driver’s license mean?
The gold star 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.
A star will appear in the top right corner of your Real ID license or non-driver identification card to indicate that this document can be used for federal identification.
Your North Carolina driver’s license card will be REAL ID compliant if it was issued during or after April 2017, and has a gold star in the right-hand corner. Your compliant card can be used as a form of federal identification until it expires.
NC residents are given a gold star in the corner of their licenses upon getting their first license or renewing one they already have. This indicates compliance with new DHS REAL ID regulations. TSA checkpoints will require identification compliant with those regulations from all passengers after May 7, 2025.
Related: Need A Gold Star On Your Mississippi Driver’s License To Fly?
Does REAL ID replace my driver license?
It will replace your current driver license, yes. And then you will use it as a driver license going forward.
It is a driver’s license. It just ensures that each person that receives it has met some minimum guideline the federal government has established for identification purposes.
What is the star on your NC license for?
It indicates that your license is compliant and can be used anywhere a REAL ID is required for federal purposes. Flights, military bases, and nuclear power plants are a few of these places.
What is the REAL ID Act?
It is a federal law that requires states to issue driver’s licenses and ID cards that meet minimum security standards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and ID cards issued by states that don’t meet those standards.
It states as of May 7, 2025, REAL IDs will be required to board domestic flights or enter secure federal facilities.
Your Real ID Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card will be marked with a star in the top right corner or will have an American flag on it or the word “Enhanced” to indicate it qualifies for use as federal identification.
If your current identification card or license doesn’t qualify, so long as it hasn’t expired, it will be accepted until May 7, 2025.
Do I need a REAL ID card?
Yes, they will be mandatory as of May 7, 2025. Until then you can use your current driver’s license or ID card that you have been using. But after that date, you will need to have a replacement card or REAL ID compliant card for international travel or domestic flight or to enter a secured federal facility.
Do you need a REAL ID to travel to North Carolina?
NC will begin to require the use of a REAL ID-compliant drivers’ license or state identification card starting on May 7, 2025.
For those traveling with commercial airlines, a REAL ID will be indicated by a gold star in the upper right-hand corner of the ID, driver’s license, or another appropriate form of identification.
The U.S. Congress introduced this law in 2005. It was one of the security measures put in place in the wake of one of the most significant attacks against the United States of America on its own land, 9/11.
It is meant to set minimum standards of security for identification documents issued. These documents include identification cards and driver’s licenses.
From May 7, 2025, you will need a gold star on driver’s license or ID card for federal agencies such as TSA to board a federally regulated commercial aircraft. This will be the acceptable form of federal ID and ensure they are REAL ID compliant.
Related: Do You Need A Gold Or Black Star On Colorado Driver’s License To Fly?
Do all North Carolina IDs have a star?
After April 2017 all NC state IDs and driver’s licenses have a star and are REAL ID compliant. When renewing or replacing IDs that do not have stars, a star will be printed on them.
Can you fly without a REAL ID in North Carolina?
You can fly without a REAL ID right now, but you won’t be able to after May 7, 2025. Not only will you need to have one to board commercial flights, but to visit military bases, federal courthouses, nuclear sites, or other federal facilities like federal prisons.
Have more questions?
If you have additional questions, the Department of Homeland Security has a great FAQ here.
Additional information can be found on the Department of Homeland Security’s site here: state compliance and state implementation
You can also contact the Transportation Security Administration: 866-289-9673
To view information from individual North Carolina agencies including time saving tips, licensing locations, documentation requirements, fees, and other helpful federal and state resources please click the links below.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has some great information on getting your license updated to the new REAL ID.
Printable List of N.C. REAL ID Requirements
N.C. REAL ID Requirements
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is State-to-State Verification?
Here is their main page as well.