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Posted on: July 12, 2018

Iowa Real ID

Iowa Real ID

What is a REAL ID?

REAL ID refers to the yellow star in the upper right corner of your driver’s license or ID card.

It is a way of verifying your identity as part of federal anti-terrorism laws and regulations.

You DO NOT need to obtain a REAL ID. However, AFTER OCT. 1, 2020, you will need to possess and show a REAL ID marked card if you would like to:

  • Fly commercially
  • Enter a federal building that requires identification
  • Enter a nuclear power facility

You may be able to provide an alternate form of identification to accomplish these things however, the US Department of Homeland Security has not identified what those alternative forms of ID might be. A passport would be an acceptable alternate form of ID for boarding a commercial aircraft.

Obtaining a REAL ID

Obtaining a REAL ID marked card is simple, but it does require you to come into an issuance location and bring documentation to prove your identity, much like you did the first time you obtained your driver’s license or ID card. You will need to have documents that:

  • Prove your identity (examples: certified birth certificate, passport, permanent resident card)
  • Document any name changes (examples: marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order for name change
  • Show your Social Security Number (examples: Social Security card, W-2 form, pay stub)
  • Indicate where you live – 2 documents (examples: utility bill, insurance card, voter registration card)
  • Your current driver’s license or ID card (if you have one)

All documents must be originals, not copies accepted. To prepare a checklist of documents you need to bring to the issuance location visit: https://iowadot.gov/mvd/realid/success.aspx 

You cannot obtain a REAL ID marked card online or at one of our kiosks. However, once you have obtained a REAL ID marked card, that mark will remain on your card each time you renew whether in person, online or at a kiosk location.

If this is the first time you are obtaining a driver’s license or ID card your card will automatically contain the REAL ID star.

A REAL ID marked card is the same as any other driver’s license or ID, except that it contains the yellow star in the upper right corner.

National Program

This is a federal act and not unique to the state of Iowa. "REAL ID" refers to a federal law called the REAL ID Act of 2005 (PDF). Congress passed the REAL ID Act in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as part of an effort to prevent future acts of terrorism. The REAL ID Act established federal security, authentication and issuance standards for state driver's licenses and identification (ID) cards as well as various immigration issues pertaining to terrorism and border control.

Although some states have been slow to adopt REAL ID, Iowa complied immediately and has been issuing REAL ID marked cards since January 2013.


Iowa DOT REAL ID Information
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