Beginning October 1, 2021, you won’t be able to fly in the U.S. without a REAL ID. Here’s what you need to know.



What is a REAL ID?

A REAL ID is a driver's license or ID that has higher security standards and therefore requires you to provide additional documentation to prove citizenship or legal presence, Social Security number and Tennessee residency.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks, Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, which requires additional documentation to get an ID that can be used for federal identification purposes (like flying.) States have been slowly implementing the program since the law was passed, but Tennessee did not begin issuing REAL IDs until July 2019.

Why do I need a REAL ID?

You’ll need a REAL ID (or another approved alternative form of ID) to fly anywhere in the U.S. or to enter a federal building or military base as of October 1, 2021.

Do I have to get a REAL ID?

No. If you cannot provide the required documents or do not want to get a REAL ID, you can keep or renew your standard driver's license or ID that will say “not for federal identification.” You can use non-REAL IDs to drive, vote or to purchase alcohol, but you will not be able to use it to fly or enter a federal building or military base.

When do I need to get a REAL ID?

The deadline is October 1, 2021.

Where do I get a REAL ID?

In Tennessee you have to apply in person at the DMV in your city/county to get a REAL ID for the first time.

Do I need to make an appointment?

No, but you should be prepared for a standard DMV wait, which can last several hours.

What documents do I need to provide?

You will need to present ORIGINAL OR CERTIFIED copies (no photocopies) of the following documents to apply. Click here for examples of each.

  • Proof to establish citizenship or legal presence
  • Name change documentation, if applicable
  • Proof of your full Social Security Number
  • Two (2) proofs of Tennessee residency

How much does it cost to get a REAL ID?

The cost of a REAL ID is the same as getting a new or duplicate license.

How do I know if my license/ID is a REAL ID?

REAL IDs have a star above the date of birth. Non-compliant IDs either have nothing or say “not for federal identification.”

I still have questions. Where can I find more information?

Visit the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s website.