The Tennessee REAL ID website now says residents need to get a REAL ID driver's license by May 7, 2025. Beginning May 7, 2025, the REAL ID Act of 2005 will go into effect, which means you will need this to fly on planes.
All people, including Tennessee residents, must have a REAL ID license to board planes in the U.S. starting then (without carrying a passport just to fly in the U.S.).
This will also apply to accessing certain Federal buildings, entering nuclear facilities, and boarding commercial flights within the United States.
Here is what the Tennessee REAL ID driver's license looks like:
This shows a gold star (actually a white star in a gold circle) in the upper right-hand corner of the REAL ID Tennessee license.
That signifies the holder has presented sufficient documents to prove they are a U.S. citizen or have a legal right to be in the U.S. For example, after booking an appointment with the local Tennessee DMV office, you will bring either an original passport, birth certificate, or, other documents that prove a legal right to be in the U.S. (e.g., a visa, etc.).
There are other documents you have to bring. You need to show your original Social Security Number card or a paystub with the SSN on it. Also, you need two proofs of Tennessee residency, such as utility bills or a bank statement, and even an unexpired driver's license.
Tennessee goes to great lengths to say that you don't need to get a REAL ID. You don't need it to vote, access hospitals, visit the post office, access federal courts, or apply for or receive federal benefits such as social security or veterans’ benefits.
But the fact remains, you will need it, for all practical purposes, to board planes starting May 7, 2025, unless you want to lug your passport around. You don't ever want to lose your passport, so it might be easier just to get a REAL ID. After all, you will need to show a passport (or a birth certificate) to get the REAL ID anyway. So, instead of showing it every time you fly, just show it once at the DMV.
In my last article on Tennessee's REAL ID, I pointed out that the Biden Administration might have had an alternative reason for the extension from May 3, 2023. That is when the previous deadline was set. Now it will be 20 years since the REAL ID Act of 2005 was passed before the enforcement of this law will go into effect.
The bottom line is that if you are a Tennessee resident, you might as well apply to get the 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 InvestorPlace.com, Barchart.com, Medium.com, and Newsbreak.com as well as TalkMarkets.
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