Real Id

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

Beginning in 2020, federal agencies will enforce tougher security standards at airport check-ins and federal buildings, military installations and nuclear facilities.

The N.C. REAL ID is just like your traditional license or ID but has a gold star endorsement at the top.

Rather not get an N.C. REAL ID license or ID? You'll still be able to board flights and enter federal facilities, but you will need to provide your license or ID along with some additional documentation.

Getting an N.C. REAL ID

Getting an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card costs the same as any other license or ID, and the process is similar. Simply go to your nearest N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles driver license office with documentation that proves:

  • Your identity and date of birth
  • You have a Social Security number
  • Your current North Carolina residency
  • Your legal presence (lawful status)

View a list of documents that are acceptable proof.

To confirm identity and residency under the federal law, NCDMV scans these documents and permanently and securely stores them in your DMV record.

You can expect to receive your N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card by mail in 10-15 business days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about N.C. REAL ID and why it's being implemented? Check out these frequently asked questions.

Why is the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles issuing N.C. REAL ID driver licenses and ID cards? 

In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 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.

On 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-compliant licenses and IDs for admission to a variety of federal facilities.

Standards for licenses and ID cards that comply with the REAL ID Act were established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Has North Carolina complied with the federal REAL ID standards? 

North Carolina is among many states that have already complied or are becoming compliant with REAL ID standards that require certain types of documentation and additional verification of each customer's identity and residency.

For many years, North Carolina has required this same documentation from those applying for a driver license or ID card. Anyone wanting an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card must take this information to an N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles driver license office, where it will be scanned and permanently stored in their DMV record.

Are all North Carolina residents required to obtain an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card? 

No. N.C. REAL ID licenses and ID cards are not mandatory.

What if my name does not match my birth certificate or other documentation? 

If your name has changed and does not match the name on your birth certificate, passport or other identifying information, you must provide a proof of name change, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree or document from the courts or Register of Deeds.

What happens if I don't have an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card and I want to fly domestically or enter a federal facility? 

The Transportation Security Administration will begin accepting N.C. REAL ID driver licenses or ID cards on Jan. 22, 2018, but you can still use other federally accepted IDs to board commercial domestic flights.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, however, you will need an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card, or a standard license or ID (plus other federally accepted forms of ID), to board flights or get into federal installations, nuclear power plants and military bases.

After these dates, anyone without an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card should plan ahead by contacting the federal facility or military base to determine what identification is required.

What federal facilities in North Carolina will require an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card for admittance? 

The following list is an example of federal facilities and installations in North Carolina that eventually will require an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card (or standard driver license or ID card and another federally accepted document) for admittance:

  • Federal Correctional Complex in Butner
  • Military bases
  • Federal courthouses
  • Nuclear power plants
How much does a N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card cost? 

There is no added fee for an N.C. REAL ID license or ID card. The cost is the same as a standard driver license or ID card.

Will an N.C. REAL ID driver license and ID card look different from a standard North Carolina driver license or ID? 

N.C. REAL ID driver licenses and ID cards look identical to standard North Carolina licenses and IDs except that they have a gold star in the upper right corner that indicates the card meets federal REAL ID standards.

Standard licenses and ID cards will be marked "Not for Federal Identification."

Can I get an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card when I renew my license online? 

No. When you first get an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card, you must take your identity documents to an N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles driver license office to be added to your DMV record.

Once you get an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card, you can renew it online, just like a standard license and ID card.

Will my scanned birth certificate and other identifying information be shared? 

No, driving records are maintained by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles and are not shared. North Carolina, like each state, issues its own unique license, maintains its own records and controls access to those records. The federal government requires that identifying information for REAL ID-compliant cards be scanned into the applicant's DMV record.

N.C. REAL ID adds an extra level of security to a driver license and ID card by making these documents more consistent and secure.

Will minors need to have an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card to fly domestically? 

The Transportation Security Administration does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with an adult companion within the United States. The companion, however, will need acceptable identification.

Is an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card required for foreign citizens entering North Carolina?  

No, but foreign citizens must have a passport recognized by the U.S. government to enter North Carolina.