Does your driver’s license have a star in the upper right corner?

No? Be warned: Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, it will no longer be accepted when going through TSA airport security domestic checkpoints.

That’s because it isn’t a REAL ID.

While it’s an ID, it isn’t in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. Based on 9/11 Commission recommendations, the law establishes “minimum security standards for license issuance.” The main goal is to eliminate fake ID’s which could be used in “boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.”

To do that, the new licenses must not only be more technically secure (think ultraviolet ink and holograms), but can only be issued IN PERSON with specifically required original documentation to validate identity.

Why am I writing about this now? Because if you’re able and planning to renew your driver’s license online, don’t.

If you do, what you’ll get back won’t be compliant. And unless you have some other form of TSA-approved identification — like a valid passport book or card, or Global Entry card — your renewed license will let you drive. But not fly.

That unexpected surprise will end a planned trip before it begins. It also won’t get your travel expenses refunded or qualify for a trip insurance claim.

Florida and all but a handful of states – including Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, Oklahoma, and Oregon – currently issue REAL ID-compliant licenses and IDs. Those few states that don’t are in the process of completing Department of Homeland Security review.

While you’ve got 18 months to get the new ID, why wait?

In Florida, a Class E license can be renewed up to 18 months prior to the card’s expiration. In our area, you can go to a Charlotte County Tax Collector’s office in Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, or Englewood, or the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s mobile North Port office. Check specific locations for hours of operation.

Here’s the required original documentation you’ll have to bring.

A valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card, or original or certified copy of your birth certificate.

Social Security card or proof of your Social Security number. Proof includes any IRS W-2 form, a pay stub with your SSN, or any IRS Form 1099. Note, the name assigned to the SSN must match the name on the driver’s license or ID card.

Proof of residential address. You’ll need two different documents with your residential address which can include a mortgage statement or lease, Florida voter registration card, Florida vehicle registration or title, a utility bill, or a homeowner insurance policy or bill.

More details are at https://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licenses-id-cards/real-id/. Those with non-Florida licenses should get details from their state DMV office. For more information on the Federal REAL ID Act, visit https://www.dhs.gov/real-id.

As noted. you don’t need a new driver’s license to fly domestically after Oct. 2020 if you have a U.S. passport book or card because both are already REAL ID-compliant. The limited-use passport card is used to enter the U.S. at land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean, and Bermuda.

But to fly internationally, you need a passport book. While it’s more expensive, there are horror stories of cruise passengers being stuck on a Caribbean island, for example, because they missed getting back on their ship and couldn’t fly home with just a passport card.

So, while you’re renewing your driver’s license, consider renewing your passport by mail if it was issued within the last 15 years. You can apply for a new passport in person at County Clerk of Court offices in Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Venice or Arcadia.

For more information about renewing or applying for a passport — including fees and how to get a one in a hurry — go to travel.state.gov.

David Morris is the Sun’s consumer advocate. Contact him c/o the Sun, 23170 Harborview Road, Charlotte Harbor, FL 33980; email david.morris@yoursun.com; or leave a message at 941-206-1114.

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