You don’t need a gold star on your Texas driver’s license or ID to fly today, but you will. Beginning May 3, 2023, 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.
Texas Department of Safety states 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, banking, and voting. For federal purposes, this identification will not be able to be used.
Not everyone in Texas owns a federally issued 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 require 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 passports or their U.S. Military card. 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?
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 3, 2023, 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.
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 air travels in the US will require REAL ID.
Here is a great video on it from the Department of Homeland Security
Does your Texas 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. The star will either be gold or black.
If your license isn’t from Texas 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”.
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.
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
What does a gold star on your Texas driver’s license mean?
It 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 card will be REAL ID compliant if it was issued after October 10, 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.
How do you get the gold star on your Texas license?
You will receive it on your new license when you renew your ID before the deadline.
You may need to present more identification documents to get a REAL-ID compliant Texas driver license or ID to be verified. These 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 Texas 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.
What is the star on your Texas license for?
It indicates that your license is compliant and can be used where a REALD 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 Texas?
Yes, they will be mandatory as of May 3, 2023. 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.
If you have additional questions, the Department of Homeland Security has a great FAQ here.
You can also contact the Transportation Security Administration: 866-289-9673