If you live in Washington state, The Washington Department of State Licensing says you will need to get a REAL ID driver's license by May 7, 2025, to board planes. Without it on that date, you must show a valid U.S. passport to get past TSA security at airports.
This is a result of implementing the REAL ID Act of 2005 on May 7, 2025, which is 24 months (2 years) from now. The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards.
Here is a sample Washington state REAL ID driver's license. It is known as an Enhanced Driver's License.
There is no gold star or gold circle with a white star in the middle of it in the upper right-hand corner like in most other states. Instead, it says "Enhanced Driver's License."
How To Get an Enhanced Driver's License in Washington State
The enhanced Driver's license (EDLs)provides travelers with a low-cost, convenient alternative for entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean through a land or sea port of entry, in addition to serving as a permit to drive.
This means you can use them when crossing the border in a car or ship. In addition, it will allow you to fly within the U.S. starting on May 7, 2025, without having to carry a passport.
There are only five states that now issue enhanced driver's licenses (EDLs): New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington state.
In 2009 the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
Its purpose was to "strengthen border security while facilitating entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate international travelers, making the process more efficient and convenient."
To get an EDL in the state of Washington, you must make an appointment to apply in person at one of our driver licensing office locations.
To get an EDL or an EID card, you must establish (or re-establish) your identity, U.S. citizenship, and WA residence.
Washington state has Proof of citizenship, identity, and residence pages for the documents needed.
EDLs make things easier for US citizens to cross the border into the US as they have embedded technology:
- A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip signals a secure system to pull up your biographic and biometric data for the CBP officer as you approach the border inspection booth.
- A Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) or barcode that the CBP officer can read electronically if RFID isn't available.
The bottom line is that getting a REAL ID in the state of Washington amounts to getting an Enhanced Driver's License (EID). This is likely worth the extra effort and cost, given the access to Canada and Mexico, and certain Caribbean states.
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