Donate to Hurricane Recovery

Get a Jump on the New N.C. REAL ID

Feb. 26, 2018 — North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles is working to comply with new federal identification standards that go into effect in 2020 and needs your help to avoid a rush of applications at deadline time. 

Getting the N.C. REAL ID will make it more convenient when you need to board a commercial airplane or visit a military base or other federal facility.

The N.C. REAL ID is just like your traditional license or ID, but it has a gold star at the top. Driver licenses and IDs without a gold star are noted “Not for Federal Identification.”

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver licenses and IDs to help prevent fraudulent identification. 

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the Transportation Security Administration will begin enforcing REAL ID requirements at airport security checkpoints. Federal agencies will also begin requiring REAL ID licenses and IDs for admission to a variety of federal facilities, including military bases and courthouses. New standards for licenses and ID cards compliant with the REAL ID Act were established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Without the N.C. REAL ID, you will still be able to board flights and enter federal facilities, but you will have to provide additional documentation with your traditional license or ID. Without a REAL ID, you must contact the TSA and federal facilities about their identification requirements.

You can use an online brochure as a reference when collecting your required documents to obtain your N.C. REAL ID. Additional details are available at

The N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card costs the same as any other license or ID for the first time. To obtain an N.C. REAL ID:

  1. Gather the necessary documents.
  2. Take them to your nearest NCDMV driver license office.
  3. Drop in when it’s convenient for you, or avoid the lines and make an appointment by calling (919) 715-7000.