With REAL ID Rules a Year Away in Illinois, Here's What it is and How to Get One

You may be required to get a REAL ID. Here's what to know.

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Beginning next year, Illinois residents will be required to show a new form of identification for all domestic air travel, as well as when entering federal buildings.

That new form of identification, known as REAL ID, will officially go into effect next May, and residents are being advised to prepare for the new rules to be put in place.

Here's a breakdown of what it is, how to determine if you need one and more.

What is a REAL ID?

A REAL ID is a state ID (like a drivers license) that also doubles as a valid passport for domestic air travel.

On the Illinois drivers license, a REAL ID is designated by a gold star in the top right corner.

You may use your REAL ID as your primary form of identification for your drivers license, for domestic air travel, or to enter military bases or secure federal facilities.

The REAL ID is not a valid form of identification for international travel.

Real Id Illinois

Who in Illinois needs a REAL ID?

For some, a REAL ID is not required.

If you currently have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, you do not need a REAL ID. Come May 3, 2023, you can instead continue to use your U.S. passport or passport card as your primary form of identification to board a domestic flight or to enter military bases or secure federal facilities. For you, a REAL ID is optional.

However, if you do not have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, and do plan on traveling by air domestically, or to enter military bases or secure federal facilities, you do need a REAL ID.

When does the REAL ID go into effect for Illinois?

May 3, 2023.

How do I get a REAL ID?

In Illinois, residents looking to obtain a REAL ID will be required to visit a Secretary of State Driver Services facility and provide documents that prove their identity, their Social Security number, a written signature and two documents that show proof of residency.

The following are acceptable documents to prove identity:

  • Birth certificate
  • U.S. passport
  • Foreign passport with U.S. visa affixed with approved Form I-94 document
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Employment Authorization Document
  • Permanent Resident Card

To provide proof of their Social Security number, resident can show their Social Security card or a W-2, or a pay stub with a Social Security number on it will be accepted. 

Illinois residents will also need to provide at least two proofs of residency to receive a REAL ID. Those can include the following: bank statement, canceled check, school transcript, credit card statement, mortgage or rental agreement, insurance policy, pay stub, retirement statement, report card, utility bill, voter registration card.

For a proof of signature, residents can show a credit or debit card, a canceled check, a current Illinois driver’s license or ID, a court order, a foreign passport, a Medicare card or a U.S. military ID.

For a full list of acceptable documents, click here.

After providing those documents, residents will receive a temporary paper ID at the facility (although residents are reminded that the TSA will NOT accept that paper ID), and will receive their new ID in the mail within 15 business days.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the federal REAL ID deadline to May 3, 2023, White noted. The previous deadline was Oct. 1.

How much does a REAL ID cost?

A REAL ID card will cost the same as a driver’s license ($30) or a state ID ($20).

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