You don’t need a gold star on your Puerto Rico driver’s license to fly today, but you will. Residents of Puerto Rico must obtain their REAL IDs by May 3, 2023. After that, federal agencies will no longer accept identification cards and driver licenses issued without stars on them for passengers older than 18. 

Puerto Rico Real ID

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 Puerto Rico Department Of Transportation has stated that those without a star on 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 Puerto Rico 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 and the territories in the US jurisdiction beginning May 3rd, 2023.

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

Other documents that people will be able to use are their 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?   

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.

Do you need a star on your license to fly into Puerto Rico?

Yes, a star will be required for anyone traveling after May 3, 2023, in the 50 states, the US-controlled territories, and Puerto Rico. This includes Puerto Ricans. 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 3rd, 2023, at least one REAL ID compliant credential or another form of identification will be required for domestic flights on commercial airlines in Puerto Rico.

What does a Puerto Rico REAL ID look like?

Most driver’s licenses issued in Puerto Rico since April 2016 are REAL ID compliant, and the upper right-hand corner will display a gold star. If yours doesn’t have that star, just go back in and talk to them about getting one that does. 

Puerto Rico REAL ID Gold star on Driver's license

How to get the gold star on your Puerto Rico license? 

You will receive it on your new 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 Puerto Rico 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 Puerto Rico 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 Puerto Rico REAL ID card or driver’s license?

Puerto Rico REAL IDs cost between $19 and $55. If you are getting a Real ID for the first time, renewing your license, or exchanging your current license or regular ID for a Real ID, the cost will vary. Detailed information can be obtained by visiting or calling one of their CESCOs or visiting the website of the Department of Transportation here.

What does a gold star on your Puerto Rico 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 the state department that issued the REAL 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 Puerto Rico driver’s license card will likely be REAL ID compliant if it was issued after April 2016 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.

Puerto Rico 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 3, 2023.

Does REAL ID replace my Puerto Rico driver’s license?

It will replace your current driver’s license, yes. And then you will use it as a driver’s 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’s the star on your Puerto Rico 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 3, 2023, 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 3, 2023. 

Do I need a REAL ID card in Puerto Rico?

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 Puerto Rico? 

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 Puerto Rico?

Yes, Puerto Rico will begin to require the use of a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or state identification card starting on May 3, 2023, for those traveling with commercial airlines. A REAL ID is indicated by a gold star in the upper right-hand corner of the ID, driver’s license, or another appropriate form of identification.

video #1

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 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 Puerto Rico driver’s license REAL ID compliant?

Your Puerto Rico driver’s license is REAL ID compliant if it has a gold star in the upper right corner of it. See the pictures above to see examples of the gold star. 

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

Can you fly without a REAL ID in Puerto Rico?

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.

The info is great in this video, although the date is now May of 23 instead of Oct of 20

Have more questions?

USA 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

Puerto Rico Resources

To view information from The Puerto Rico Department of Transportation website including time-saving tips, licensing locations, documentation requirements, fees, and other helpful federal and state resources please click HERE

Additional details can be found HERE as well.

Does your Puerto Rico 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 Puerto Rico 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 do not have a star, but they have the United States of America flag on them or say “Enhanced”.

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”

Is Puerto Rico DMV issuing Real ID?

Puerto Rico residents now have the option of obtaining a Puerto Rico driver’s license or ID card that complies with the federal Real ID Act.

Does my Real ID work when I travel to a country that is not within the jurisdiction of the United States?

It does not. Passports are still required for any travel outside the United States jurisdiction.

Do I need a REAL ID to fly to Puerto Rico in 2022?

No, you do not need a REAL ID to fly to Puerto Rico in 2022. You will need one to fly there after May 23rd, 2023. So it is best to look into what you need to get your REAL ID. 

We have a detailed page for every state and US territory with all the information and links to your local resources here on Travelonthefly. Check em out. 

Do I need either a passport or REAL ID to fly to Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico does not require passports for U.S. citizens to enter; however, you will need to present proof of residency or citizenship upon your return. A passport is a really easy way to do that. 

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