You don’t need a gold star on your Washington driver’s license to fly today, but by May 3, 2023, your license will need to say “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of it. This means it is REAL ID certified.

Enhanced driver's license from Washington state

Residents of the state of Washington must obtain their REAL IDs by May 3, 2023. After that, federal agencies will no longer accept identification cards and driver licenses issued at the state level that aren’t REAL ID certified. In the state of Washington, REAL IDs will say “Enhanced” at the top for passengers older than 18 years old.

The May 2023 deadline is an extension from the original October 2021 date due to the COVID pandemic.

They are commonly called Enhanced Driver License (EDL) and Enhanced Identification Card (EID)

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 Washington State Department of Licensing has stated that those without “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of their cards can continue to use their cards after May 3, 2023, 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 Washington 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 3rd, 2023.

Other documents that people will be able to use are their passports or their U.S. Military cards. Most people use their driver’s licenses to get through security on domestic flights though.

This law means that your enhanced driver’s license (EDL) MUST comply with TSA’s requirements for you to fly domestically. A complying Washington license will have “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of the card. Does yours?   

Here is a great video on it from the Department of Homeland Security

Additionally, a REAL ID or 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.

Do you need a REAL ID to fly into Washington?

Yes, a REAL ID compliant EDL or EID will be required for all Americans after May 3, 2023. This includes Washingtonians. The following emblems are used by different states to indicate that a license or ID has been certified as compliant with Federal REAL ID standards by the Department of Homeland Security. 

Insert image of all the emblems…

As of May 3rd, 2023, at least one REAL ID compliant credential or another form of identification will be required for domestic flights on commercial airlines in Washington.

What does a Washington REAL ID look like?

video #1 Travelonthefly.com x

Driver’s licenses issued in Washington after October of 2018 are REAL ID compliant, and your license will say “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of it. If yours doesn’t have “Enhanced” on it, just go back in and talk to them about getting one that does. 

You may already have what you need

You may already have identification that is sufficient and you might not need to worry about obtaining a new REAL ID-compliant enhanced driver’s license.

It is possible to use a variety of existing identification options. Here is the full list:

  • U.S. Military ID
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card
  • Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
  • Foreign Passport
  • Federally Recognized, Tribal-issued Photo ID
  • Border Crossing Card
  • Enhanced Driver License (EDL)
  • Enhanced Identification Card (EID)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)

How to get “Enhanced” on your Washington license? 

You will receive it on your new enhanced license when you renew your ID before the May 2023 deadline.

You may need to present more identification documents to get a REAL-ID compliant Washington driver license or 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 Washington 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 office to replace your old one with one that is certified REAL ID. Click here to find your closest local branch office.

How much does it cost to get a Washington REAL ID card or driver’s license?

It is $54 for a standard six-year license or ID. It costs $78 for a six-year enhanced ID or license. Residents are able to choose either option.

HERE are all the fees on the state’s website.

What does “Enhanced” on your Washington driver’s license mean?

“Enhanced Driver License” at the top of it certifies that you have met the Real ID Act requirements. This means that the citizenship of the holder has been verified by the state department that issued the REAL ID.  

“Enhanced” at the top of your Real ID license or non-driver identification card indicates that this document can be used for federal identification.

Your Washington driver’s license card will be REAL ID compliant if it was issued after October of 2018 and has “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of it. Your compliant card can be used as a form of federal identification until it expires.

Washington residents are now given the words “Enhanced Driver License” at the top 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 3, 2023.

Does REAL ID replace my Washington 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 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 3, 2023, REAL IDs will be required to board domestic flights or enter secure federal facilities.

In Washington, your Real ID Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card will be marked with “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 3, 2023. 

Do I need a REAL ID card in Washington?

Yes, they will be mandatory as of May 3, 2023, for international travel or domestic flight or to enter a secured federal facility. Until then you can use your current driver’s license or card that you have been using.

Do I have to get a REAL ID in Washington? 

Getting a REAL ID is not mandatory but is encouraged.

A REAL ID is optional and is not needed for the following:

  • Receiving Federal benefits
  • Driving a car
  • Accessing or entering hospitals and health clinics, law enforcement, or accessing court proceedings
  • Voting
  • Entering Federal facilities that do not require identification

Do you need a REAL ID to travel to Washington?

Washington will begin to require the use of a REAL ID-compliant enhanced driver’s license or state enhanced identification card starting on May 3, 2023, for those traveling with commercial airlines. A REAL ID is typically indicated by a gold star in the upper right-hand corner of the ID, driver’s license, or another appropriate form of identification. In the state of Washington, your license won’t have a star but will need to say “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of it. 

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 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 3, 2023, you will need a gold star or the words “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of it on your 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.

Is my Washington driver’s license REAL ID compliant?

Your Washington driver’s license is REAL ID compliant if it has “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of it. See the pictures above to see examples. 

If you don’t have one, it is easy to get one. Just keep reading.

Can you fly without a REAL ID in Washington?

You can fly without a REAL ID right now, but you won’t be able to after May 3, 2023. Not only will you need to have one to board commercial flights, but to visit military bases, federal courthouses that require federal identification, nuclear sites, or other federal facilities like federal prisons.

Is Washington a Real ID state?

Yes, it is. Applicants for new licenses, permits, or ID cards must provide documents verifying their identity, lawful status, social security number, and residency in Washington. A Real ID-compliant credential is issued to the DMV in return. Licenses and ID cards for non-compliant drivers may only be issued to Washington residents with non-compliant licenses and ID cards.

Have more questions?

Federal Resources

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

State Resources

To view information from the Washington State Department of Licensing website including time-saving tips, licensing locations, documentation requirements, fees, and other helpful federal and state resources for getting your Enhanced Driver License (EDL) or Enhanced Identification Card (EID) click HERE.

HERE is an online way to schedule or cancel an appointment for your new driver’s license or ID.

HERE are a number of tips for your visit.

If you have additional EID or EDL questions, the state website has additional info HERE as well.

Related: Do You Need A Gold Star On Your Maine Driver’s License To Fly?

Related: Do You Need A Star On Your Driver’s License To Fly?

Does your Washington driver’s license have “Enhanced” on it?

To check whether you have a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, check near the top of your card. It will say “Enhanced Driver License” at the top of it.

If your license isn’t from Washington and it doesn’t have a star in the upper right corner, know that some other states already have enhanced their licenses to comply with the Real ID requirements. Such enhanced licenses usually have a star in a gold or black circle in the upper right-hand corner.

Your license doesn’t meet the requirements if it has any of the phrases below on it:
“Federal Limits Apply”
“Not For Federal Identification”
“Not For Federal Purposes”

What’s the “Enhanced” on your Washington 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.