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Most Americans aren't ready for REAL ID's Oct. 2020 deadline, survey finds

We're one year away from REAL ID's final enforcement deadline and a survey found lots of people aren't prepared.

On Oct. 1, 2020, flying domestically with what many currently consider a "standard" drivers license won't even get you past airport security. 

That's because of the REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005, following a recommendation from the 9/11 commission. The change led to minimum security standards for state-issued driver's license and identification cards.

If you are confused about REAL ID driver's licenses, you're not alone.

A survey commissioned by U.S. Travel Association and conducted by Longwoods International found that an estimated 72% of Americans either don't currently have a REAL ID or they aren't sure if their license is one or not. 

REAL IDs will be needed in order to board commercial aircraft, access federal facilities and enter nuclear power plants. 

Everyone has until Oct.1, 2020 to get their REAL IDs. Starting on that date, the Department of Homeland Security and TSA will only accept state-issued licenses and identification cards that are compliant with REAL ID security standards. 

After that date, if you don't have a REAL ID, you're 18 or older, and you want to board a domestic flight, you'll need a valid passport, active duty military ID, or any of the other documents listed here. Additionally, Enhanced Driver's Licenses issued by Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Vermont, are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-complaint cards.

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But, according to the survey, 39% of Americans say they don't currently have any form of identification that'll be accepted after the REAL ID deadline. That means an estimated 99 million Americans may not currently have the proper identification needed to board a flight starting October 2020. 

The easiest way to tell whether or not your state-issued license is a REAL ID is whether you have a star marking the upper top portion of the card. 

Credit: Department of Homeland Security
Examples of what REAL IDs look like.

According to the survey, most Americans are also unaware about the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline for air travel. It found 57% of respondent either didn't know about the deadline or mistakenly thought you'd need a REAL ID for something else instead. 

In order to get a REAL ID, you must provide specific documentation proving full legal name, date of birth, social security number, two proofs of address of principal residence and lawful status. 

Credit: Homeland Security
Homeland Security fact sheet showing examples of REAL ID markings on driver's licenses.