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.

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

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

N.C. REAL IDs

Real Id
N.C. REAL ID driver licenses and IDs carry a gold star in the top right corner.

Non-REAL ID

Real Id
Without a star, licenses and IDs now carry the stamp "Not for Federal Identification."

Without an 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. You must also contact the Transportation Security Administration and other federal facilities about their required identification before each visit.

Getting an N.C. REAL ID

Downloadable Brochure

Real Id

Download and print the N.C. REAL ID brochure as a reference when collecting your required documents.

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

  1. Gather the necessary documents.
  2. Take them to your nearest NCDMV driver license office
    • Drop in any time when it's convenient for you
    • Avoid the lines and make an appointment by calling (919) 715-7000.

Required Documents

You'll need documents from the following table to get an N.C. REAL ID.

Proof of Acceptable Documents Requirement
Identity, date of birth, legal presence/lawful status View list 1 document with full name
Social Security number View list 1 with full name and Social Security number
N.C. address View list 2 with current address
Name change View list 1 (required only if name is different from the name on birth certificate, passport, U.S. government documents or REAL ID)

To avoid inconveniences, make sure you have all necessary documents before visiting the driver license office.

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 is 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 certified marriage license or certified marriage certificate, certified 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? 

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, if you don’t have an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card, you will need to provide additional identification along with your standard license or ID to board flights or to get into federal installations, nuclear power plants and military bases.

Anyone without an N.C. REAL ID driver license or ID card should plan ahead by contacting the Transportation Security Administration or 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
  • Federal courthouses
  • Military bases
  • 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.