Wednesday, October 4, 2023

2.5 Million Virginians Now Have REAL ID as Airport Identification Requirements Change Next May

REAL ID compliant driver's licenses look just like a regular license but have a star on the upper right. (WYDaily photo/Courtesy Virginia DMV)
(WYDaily photo/Courtesy Virginia DMV)

RICHMOND — With less than one year before identification requirements change at America’s airports, more than 2.5 million Virginians have already obtained a REAL ID-compliant credential at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Beginning May 3, 2023, travelers who wish to board a domestic flight must present a REAL ID-compliant state-issued driver’s license or identification card, or another form of federally accepted identification, such as a U.S. passport. The same identification can be used to enter many secure federal facilities.

Acting DMV Commissioner Linda Ford joined Transportation Security Administration Federal Security Director for Central and Southern Virginia Chuck Burke at Richmond International Airport on Monday to remind Virginians of the importance of obtaining the necessary identification ahead of the change.

“We are very proud of the hard work our customer service team has dedicated to inform as many Virginians as possible about the benefits of REAL ID,” said Ford.

“We’ve served millions of customers, but we estimate there may be tens of thousands out there who have waited to apply,” Ford said. “For these customers, please visit our website, determine if you need a REAL ID, and, if you do, plan your visit over the next several months to avoid a last-minute trip in 2023.”

“Summer is the perfect time for Virginia residents to get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card because beginning next May, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant credential or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States,” added Burke.

Perry J. Miller, president and CEO of the Capital Region Airport Commission, said Richmond International Airport was urging travelers to register for a REAL ID-compliant state-issued driver’s license or identification card, “the sooner the better.”

“With several new routes coming online and passenger volume approaching pre-pandemic levels, we’re on a deadline, via Virginia-issued identification media or an acceptable form of federal ID like a passport, to make sure customers are ready for domestic travel requirements by May 3, 2023,” Miller said.

The DMV offers the following pointers to help residents prepare:

  1. Determine if You Need a REAL ID: If you have a valid U.S. passport or other acceptable ID, or don’t fly or access secure federal facilities, you may not need a REAL ID. Check out the full list of acceptable forms of ID at
  2. Avoid the Rush: It is human nature to wait until the last minute. Since you have 11 months to plan ahead, schedule your REAL ID appointment over the next several months and avoid the crowds in 2023. You can also visit DMV Connect.
  3. Complete Your Application Online: Federal requirements stipulate you must visit DMV in person to obtain your REAL ID, but you can do a lot of the legwork from home by completing your REAL ID driver’s license application online up to 30 days prior to your visit. The online application will also help you determine the correct documents needed to apply.
  4. Gather the Correct Documents: Visit for an abundance of resources to help you prepare. Federal requirements outline which documents are necessary, but, for most folks, they are pretty easy to gather.

For more information, visit

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