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August 19, 2019

What is N.C. Real ID?


Date: August 19, 2019

Author: Bill Trahan, CFP®, CRC®, RFC®

Read time: 2 minutes


Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, federal agencies will enforce the REAL ID Act, which requires a REAL ID, U.S. passport or another federally approved identification to board commercial flights and enter secure federal buildings.

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


 N.C. REAL ID Is Completely Optional

You do not need an N.C. REAL ID driver license or identification card to do any of the following:

  • Drive
  • Vote
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.)
  • Enter a federal facility that does not require an ID (e.g,. a post office)
  • Access a hospital or receive life-saving services
  • Participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations (e.g., serve on a federal jury, testify in federal court, etc.)


An N.C. REAL ID, however, might be helpful for anyone who frequently:

  • Boards a commercial airplane
  • Visits nuclear sites
  • Visits military bases
  • Visits federal courthouses, federal prisons or other federal facilities


An individual without an N.C. REAL ID or U.S. passport will still be able to board flights or make visits to the facilities mentioned above, but they will have to provide additional documentation with their traditional license or ID.


To view Frequently Asked Questions on N.C. Real ID visit:




North Carolina flag photo by: Alisha Newton


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