REAL ID (gold star) deadline extended to May 7, 2025


The REAL ID (gold star) effective date is set for May 7, 2025. If you fly commercially or need access to federal facilities, you’ll either need a REAL ID license or ID or another acceptable identity document, or you’re going to be subject to additional screening and potential delays. Please note it can take up to 21 days to receive your REAL ID in the mail, so please plan ahead.

Don’t panic! We’re here to help you decide if a REAL ID license or ID is right for you.


REAL ID is a federal act focusing on anti-terrorism, fraud protection, and security specific to the production of driver's licenses and ID cards that control access to

  • Federal facilities requiring identification to enter.
  • Federally regulated commercial aircraft.
  • Nuclear power facilities.

Find out more about the REAL ID Act.


REAL ID does not:

  • Invalidate your state issued driver’s license or ID card.
  • Affect using a driver’s license or ID card for usual purposes, such as driving, renting a vehicle, writing a check, purchasing alcohol or tobacco, or entering a casino.

You may not need a REAL ID compliant license or ID card if you

  • Do not fly and do not plan to enter certain federal facilities, such as military bases and nuclear power plants.
  • Have an acceptable alternative to a state-issued REAL ID compliant driver’s license or ID card, such as a valid U.S. passport.


Great! You've decided a REAL ID driver's license or ID is the right choice for you. So what's next? Follow these simple and helpful tips below.


Sample of Real ID card

REAL ID card:

  • Looks the same as any other Iowa driver’s license and ID card.
  • Contains the same information.
  • Is made of the same materials.
  • Has the same security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication.

The only difference is that a REAL ID card will have a star verification mark on the front of the card in the upper right corner.

Real ID star

The REAL ID star indicates to officials and employees controlling access to federal facilities that require identification to enter, federally regulated commercial aircraft, and nuclear power facilities that the person holding the driver’s license or ID card established their identity, lawful status or presence, and residence in a manner that complied with the federal regulations. The Iowa Department of Transportation began issuing cards with the REAL ID star on Jan. 15, 2013.

*Reminder: REAL ID only affects use of a state-issued driver’s license or ID card for the purpose listed above (flying and entering specific federal facilities). REAL ID does not affect any other use of a driver’s license or ID card. The lack of a REAL ID star should not prevent use of a driver’s license or ID card for any other purpose.

Minor School License (optional)  HOW CAN I GET A REAL ID LICENSE OR ID?

  • If you decide you need a REAL ID license or ID, you can get one at any time. If your license or ID will expire before May 7, 2025, you can just wait until it’s time to renew and do it then. If you your license or ID will expire on or after May 7, 2025, you can make an appointment to come in to one of our driver’s license service centers (REAL ID not available on online renewal) before then and get a replacement license or ID that’s marked as a REAL ID license or ID.
  • Getting a REAL ID license or ID is just like getting your license or ID for the first time. To meet the federal requirements, you will have to bring documents that prove your identity and date of birth, social security number, and Iowa residence and residential address.
  • It doesn’t cost more to get a REAL ID license or ID. If you’re renewing your license or ID, the renewal fee is the same. If you’re getting a replacement, the replacement fee is the same $10 required for any replacement or duplicate license or ID.
  • There are no tests or driving requirements to get a REAL ID license. The federal REAL ID regulations only require that you prove your identity, not your driving knowledge or ability. If you already have a driver’s license, you don’t have to take written or driving tests just to add the REAL ID star.
  • You only have to go through the REAL ID process one time. Once we verify your identity and add the REAL ID star, you don’t have to re-apply when you renew your license in the future – we will continue to apply the REAL ID star whenever you renew your license in Iowa.

Step two  What documents do I need to get a REAL ID?

How do I get a REAL ID-marked card?

Whether you are getting your first Iowa driver's license or ID card or renewing or replacing an Iowa driver's license or ID card that doesn't have a REAL ID star, the process is the same.

You will need to make an appointment to go to an Iowa driver's license service center and present specific documents that prove your identity and residency.

Create your customized list of the documents you will need to bring with you.

It does not cost more to get a card with a REAL ID star and there are no tests required to add a REAL ID star. The REAL ID star does not affect how long the card is valid.

Step three  I have a REAL ID...

Congratulations on getting a REAL ID driver's license or ID. When boarding a plane or entering a federal facility that requires identification, present your REAL ID card and follow their directions. It's that simple.

Once you have a REAL ID-compliant card, you won’t need to bring all of those documents again to renew. Any replacement card or renewal will be issued to you and will include the REAL ID star.


  • If you are a foreign national with temporary lawful status, you must provide proof of lawful status at each renewal.
  • If you are switching to an Iowa driver’s license from another state, you will need to provide all the documentation even if your out of state driver’s license already has the gold star (REAL ID).
  • If your name, date of birth, or sex changes, you will have to provide documentation that proves the change. (This is true whether you have a card that has a REAL ID star or not.)


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