Real ID


Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, if you're planning to travel by commercial plane, you must show a REAL ID compliant license or identification card (ID) at the airport, or comply with TSA by providing additional and accepted documentation including increased security checks which may cause delay.

Don't fret! We're here to help you discover if an Iowa REAL ID compliant license or ID is right for you.

What is REAL ID

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.

Step one  What does a Real ID card look like?

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)  When can I get a REAL ID card?

The simple answer - whenever convenient for you! We started issuing REAL ID cards in January 2013 to anyone getting an Iowa driver's license or ID for the first time, so you can get one at any time.

  • If your driver's license or ID card will expire before Oct. 1, 2020, you can wait until it is time to renew your driver's license or ID card.
  • If your driver's license or ID card will expire after Oct. 1, 2020, or if you are over 70 and have a nonexpiring card issued before Jan. 1, 2014, you can come in at any time before or after Oct. 1, 2020, and apply for a duplicate card marked as REAL ID-compliant. (The fee for a duplicate card is $10.)

Remember- a REAL ID driver's license or ID card is not mandatory, and some people may find they do not need one. We encourage you to review all of our REAL ID FAQs.

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 go to an Iowa driver's service center and present documents that prove your:

  • Identity.
  • Date of birth.
  • Social Security number (or immigration number for persons authorized to be present in the United States but not issued a Social Security number).
  • Legal status or authorized presence in the United States.
  • Residency and residential address in Iowa.

Let us do the work to help you determine the exact documents you need to bring in for your REAL ID. Answer a few questions and we'll do the rest by creating a customized list of the documents you will need to bring with you. You can also review and list of acceptable documents there.

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, we won't make you 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 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.)