Colorado Says that You Need a REAL ID by May 3, 2023, In Order to Board a Plane Then, Unless You Have a Passport

Mark Hake

The Colorado Dept. of Revenue Div. of Vehicles says that you need a REAL ID driver's license or ID in order to board a plane starting on May 3, 2023. This also applies to entering a federal building that requires security, including military bases or nuclear plants.

Here is what the Colorado REAL ID driver's license looks like:
Colorado REAL ID driver's license.Photo byCL Div. of Motor Vehicles

This shows that there is a star in the upper right-hand corner of the driver's license. In this case, the star is inside a black circle. If you look at an ID credential card below that is REAL ID-compliant, there is also a star in the upper right-hand corner:
Colorado ID Card with a gold star.Photo byCL Div. of Vehicles

But in this case, the star is a gold star with no circle around it.

In fact, Colorado now has a new design on its licenses as seen in the photo below:
New design CO DL with REAL ID star.Photo byCO Div. of Motor Vehicles.

This shows the new "Iconic" design for Colorado DL with the black circle star in the upper right-hand corner of the D.L.

Therefore, there are at least two types of REAL ID issued by the state of Colorado, and the REAL ID Act of 2005 by the U.S. Congress. This is important, since getting on a plane on or after May 3, 2023, requires that you show either a driver's license or a state ID that has a REAL ID signia - a star in the upper right-hand corner. Otherwise, you will have to show a passport, passport card, or a Dept. of Defense ID card to get on a plane then.

Note that Colorado does not require you to get this REAL ID driver's license or ID by May 3, 2023. Your travel documentation options will be limited and your ability to enter federal buildings that require security will limit you to carrying a passport, etc. The TSA has a list of other acceptable forms of ID on this page.

How to Get a Colorada REAL ID Driver's License

To get a Colorado REAL ID driver's license or ID, you need to set up an appointment with the DMV.

The Colorado Div of Motor Vehicles website does not make it clear anywhere on their REAL ID site what documents are needed to get a REAL ID.

However, we know from other states that the federal government requires 3 areas of documentation proof:

1. Identity (such as a passport or a birth certificate), and if you are not a U.S. citizen, some sort of proof of lawful presence in the U.S. (i.e., visa, or other documents from the U.S. government authorizing residence in the U.S.). You only need one document to prove your identity and presence in the U.S.

2. Social Security number - one document such as an SSN card or a pay stub with an SSN on it.

3. Proof of Residence in the state of Colorado. This requires two documents - but one of them can be your existing driver's license and the other can be a utility bill or bank statement.

If you go through the process of getting an appointment on the Colorado website, it will walk you through what documents you may need if you don't already have a REAL ID-compliant driver's license.

If you simply look at your license now and see if there is a star in the upper right-hand corner. If not, then you may want to book an appointment to get the Colorado REAL ID driver's license.


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Mark R. Hake, CFA, writes articles on national and local news, stocks, and market events at,,, and as well as TalkMarkets.

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Mark Hake is a financial analyst, investor, and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He writes about US and foreign stocks as well as cryptos, hedge funds, and private equity. He previously ran his own hedge fund, investment research firm, and acted as CFO for a fintech startup. He focuses on finding value, arbitrage, and hidden asset opportunities.

Phoenix, AZ

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