Virginia to require Real ID for U.S. air travel for most passengers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you have a Virginia driver's license, eventually you won't be able to use it to travel domestically from any airport. That's because of new federal guidelines the Commonwealth is working to comply with.

Traditional licenses will become a thing of the past when it comes to getting through security at the airport.

We're still two years away from that happening, but come October, you'll be able to purchase the new license that Virginia is finalizing right now.

If you think it's crowded at your local DMV now, just wait until October. That's when anyone who wants to fly around the country will begin showing up to apply for a brand new, secure license. It's called the Real ID.

"It's going to look exactly the same, almost…The difference for Real ID compliant credentials will be a small star in the upper right hand corner," said Brandy Brubaker with the Virginia DMV.

Why is this happening? A federal law passed in 2005 requires it as an extra layer of security. You won't be forced to get one - unless you want to fly out of an airport one day.

You may be asking "is there any way around this?" If you have a passport, you're in luck. As it does now, a passport will allow you through security when flying, no ID needed.

If you don't have a passport, or you just want to get the latest ID Virginia will offer, you have to physically show up to the DMV. You can't sign up online.

"You just complete the process, get a new photo taken and your card will arrive in the mail. You should allow seven to 15 days for your credential to arrive" Brubaker adds.

Don't expect to just bring in your old license and trade it in for a Real ID. You will need to provide more documents than it took to get your current license.

You'll need something that verifies you are who you say you are - like a birth certificate. Also a document to establish you live in the U.S., and another item to show you have a valid Social Security Number, like a paystub. Don't forget two documents that prove you're a Virginia resident.

As for your current license...

"Those are still good for voting and driving," Brubaker said.

But not for taking to the friendly skies.

The new licenses will be offered in October. Check your current ID to see when it's time for you to renew. If that date is after October, then you can knock out two birds with one stone. Virginia received an extension to comply with the Real ID requirements. That extension ends in October 2020.

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