Rhode Island REAL ID: What You Need to Know

After May 3, 2023, your Rhode Island driver’s license must be REAL ID-compliant to board domestic flights.
Written by Melanie Johnson
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Starting on May 3, 2023, you’ll be able to use your Rhode Island driver’s license to board a domestic flight only if it’s compliant with the standards set by the REAL ID Act of 2005.
A driver’s license is an important form of identification—and as of 2023, it’s due for an upgrade. You’ll need to upgrade your standard license to a REAL ID by May 2023 to enjoy certain privileges, like boarding a flight or visiting a military base. 
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What is REAL ID?

Increasing security measures became a national priority after 9/11. At the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, Congress worked to pass the
in 2005 to establish new standards for ID documents
The act includes driver’s licenses. The rollout has been slow, but the act is set to finally go into effect in May 2023.

Who needs a REAL ID?

Starting on May 3, 2023, a REAL ID-compliant license will be required to: 
  • Gain access to certain federal and/or nuclear facilities
  • Enter a military base 
  • Board commercial aircraft (including domestic flights)
While the first two circumstances may not affect you too much, if you want to continue using your Rhode Island driver’s license to board domestic flights, you’ll need to upgrade to a REAL ID by spring 2023. 
Bear in mind that upgrading a REAL ID in Rhode Island is optional. You’ll still be able to use other documents to board a flight—such as a passport—even if you don’t get a REAL ID by the deadline. For a full list of acceptable documentation, check out the
TSA website
Key Takeaway The REAL ID Act takes effect in 2023 and sets new identification document standards.
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How to get a Rhode Island REAL ID

To get to a REAL ID-compliant license in Rhode Island, follow these two simple steps: 
  • Use the Rhode Island DMV’s
    document checklist
    to gather the necessary paperwork for your REAL ID, including identification and proof of residence.
  • Make an appointment
    at your local DMV or
    branch office to have your documents verified. 
At the appointment, you will receive a temporary paper driver’s license or ID card that indicates you applied for a REAL ID-compliant license, and you should receive your REAL ID in the mail several weeks later.
There is no extra charge for a REAL ID if it’s applied for within your renewal period. It will cost $27.50 to get a REAL ID outside of the renewal window.
MORE: Rhode Island electric vehicle incentives

How to save money on car insurance in Rhode Island

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Department of Homeland Security’s website
can help you decide whether you need a REAL ID. One thing’s for sure: if you want to use your driver’s license to board domestic flights after May 3, 2023, it’ll need to be a REAL ID.
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