Alabama REAL ID: What You Need to Know

Starting on May 3, 2023, your Alabama license or ID must be REAL ID-compliant if you want to use it to board domestic US flights.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
Any Alabama resident over the age of 18 will need a REAL ID (called STAR ID in Alabama) as identification to board US domestic flights under the 2005 REAL ID Act. 
While your driver’s license gives you legal permission to operate a vehicle, it’s also an important form of identification. If you’re a frequent flier, you likely already know that you can use your driver’s license as a valid form of identification to board domestic US flights. As of May 2023, however, you’ll require an Alabama STAR ID (REAL ID)-compliant driver’s license if you still want to use it as documentation for boarding your next flight.
If you’re not familiar with REAL ID—or you’re just not sure where to start when it comes to getting one—don’t worry!
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What is REAL ID?

The introduction of REAL IDs was a national security measure taken in response to the 9/11 tragedy of 2001. Recommended by the 9/11 Commission, Congress passed the
REAL ID Act
in 2005 to establish enhanced identification standards for US documents. While it has taken a while, the requirement for REAL-ID-compliant driver’s licenses will go into effect on May 3, 2023 nationwide. 
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency developed the STAR ID program to comply with the Federal REAL ID Act. The STAR ID is equivalent to other states’ REAL ID programs—the only difference is its name. STAR stands for “Secure, Trusted, And Reliable.” 

Who needs a REAL ID?

Starting on May 3, 2023, a REAL ID will be required to: 
  • Gain access to a nuclear power plant
  • Enter into some federal facilities
  • Board domestic US flights and other federally regulated commercial aircrafts
Most Americans don’t spend a lot of time at federal facilities or taking day trips to their local nuclear power plant. If these two things don’t apply to you, you might not see the point of upgrading to a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. However, if you wish to continue using your Alabama driver’s license as an identification document when boarding domestic US flights, particularly if you do not own a US Passport, you’ll need to upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant license before May 2023
If you’re dead-set against getting a REAL ID-compliant license, a full list of valid identification documents for boarding flights after the May 2023 cut-off for REAL ID is available at the
TSA website
Key Takeaway The REAL ID Act sets new standards for identification documents—and it’s scheduled to take effect in 2023. 

How to get an Alabama REAL ID

REAL IDs are only issued at Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Driver's License exam offices to applicants who can provide the following valid documentation: 
  • Proof of identity (1)
  • Proof of social security (1)
  • Proof of Alabama residency (2)
A full list of what documents count as valid examples for these categories is available on the Alabama LEA’s
website
While the ALEA doesn’t list a specific price for getting a STAR ID, a regular driver’s license costs $36.25 in the state. 

How to save money on car insurance in Alabama

While a REAL ID-compliant Alabama driver’s license will help you board domestic flights to the far reaches of the US in 2023, having reliable car insurance can help you explore the rest of the country safely starting right now!
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