The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power facilities, and boarding commercial aircraft for domestic flights.
A Tennessee credential is either a driver license or identification (ID) card issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Driver Services Division.
A REAL ID compliant driver license or ID card is a credential that can be used for activities such as boarding a commercial domestic flight or entering certain federal facilities in addition to normal license or ID use.
It is your choice to get a REAL ID license. If you fly domestically and simply want the convenience of carrying your driver license or ID credential to board your flights or if you do not have another Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved alternative form of identification, you may want to obtain a REAL ID so your travel plans are not affected.
Federal law requires that your first application for a REAL ID compliant credential be made in person. A REAL ID license can be obtained at any of the 44 Driver Services Centers across Tennessee.
After being issued your first REAL ID compliant credential, you may renew online, use a Self-Service kiosk or visit a County Clerk office for renewal.
You will need to present the following documents when applying for a REAL ID:
- Proof to establish citizenship or legal presence
- Proof of your full Social Security Number
- Two proofs of Tennessee residency
You should also be prepared to provide documentation of any name changes that may have occurred.
These documents will be required even if you are already a Tennessee license holder and are applying for a REAL ID for the first time or if you are a new Tennessee resident and were previously issued a REAL ID in a different state.
You may find a complete checklist of the required documentation here.
No appointments will be accepted for this type of transaction. You may visit a Driver Services Center during business hours (8:30 am - 5:00 pm).
No. You will be issued a paper interim REAL ID compliant credential. If you need a REAL ID compliant credential for an upcoming trip, please allow enough time before to receive your hard copy in the mail. A paper credential may not be accepted by TSA. Please contact TSA to inquire if a paper copy is accepted. The hard copy will arrive in 10-20 days at the mailing address you provided.
The decision to get a REAL ID credential is completely up to you. It is not required for any other reason than to allow you to continue to fly domestically and access certain federal facilities after October 1, 2020. For example, you may decide to not get a REAL ID if you already have a passport or another TSA approved alternative form of identification. Until October 1, 2020, our currently issued Tennessee driver license and/or ID credential is acceptable.
Beginning October 1, 2020, you must have a REAL ID compliant credential, or a TSA approved alternative form of identification to fly within the U.S.
No. There is no need to rush into a Driver Services Center. A valid Tennessee driver license or ID credential will be accepted by the TSA to board a commercial domestic flight and by federal agents to enter secure federal facilities until October 1, 2020. Additionally, if you have a valid U.S. passport or U.S. passport card, military ID, or other federally approved form of identification, you may continue to use this as your form of identification after October 1, 2020, for federal purposes.
Minors are eligible to obtain a REAL ID compliant driver license or an ID credential. Minors that have a current driver license or ID credential have the same choice as existing license holders and can obtain a REAL ID compliant credential by following the same process as adult drivers.
Please visit the TSA website for guidelines on travel by minors.
Tennessee will issue REAL ID compliant credentials beginning July 1, 2019.
No. The REAL ID compliant credential does not have an additional cost. However, if you wish to obtain one before your renewal, you will need to pay a duplicate fee. For more information on cost, click here.
A REAL ID compliant driver license or ID credential will appear very similar to your existing driver license or ID credential. The distinguishing difference is a gold circle with a star in the right corner. For an example of what a Tennessee REAL ID credential looks like, click here.
You will be issued a Standard driver license or ID credential. It will have the phrase “Not for Federal Identification” printed on the front of the credential. The general use of a Standard or REAL ID driver license or ID credential will not change. The only difference is that a REAL ID driver license or ID credential will allow you to board a commercial domestic flights or entering certain federal facilities. For an example of what a Tennessee Standard credential looks like, click here.
“Not for Federal Identification” means that a credential is not REAL ID compliant and you will not be able to use the credential to board a commercial domestic aircraft, enter a federal facility or visit a nuclear facility after October 1, 2020.
Any REAL ID compliant credential issued from another state can be transferred, however all documentation requirements must be met to be issued a Tennessee REAL ID credential.
No. The federal government does not have a federal database storing REAL ID information. Tennessee securely stores your REAL ID information with your driving record information.
There is no electronic chip or other electronic device in a Tennessee driver license or ID credential.
You can find the current and comprehensive list of all acceptable alternative documents on the TSA website. You may also contact your airline for specific questions about identification requirements for traveling.
No. You must choose between a REAL ID complaint driver license or a REAL ID identification credential.
When REAL ID compliant licenses and ID credentials are available, your first or initial application for a REAL ID compliant driver license or ID credential must be done in person at a Driver Services Center. After receiving your REAL ID compliant credential, you may be able to use the online renewal service, Self Service Kiosks, visit a County Clerk office or the mail-in option to renew or be issued a duplicate of your REAL ID compliant credential.
No. There are no knowledge or skills testing requirements to apply for a REAL ID complaint driver license credential if you currently have a valid driver license. You may find a complete list of requirements to obtain a REAL ID credential here.
A REAL ID compliant driver license or ID credential is not mandatory and some people may find they do not need one. If they have a valid passport or if they do not plan to fly commercially, enter a federal facility or visit a nuclear facility, a REAL ID may not be necessary.
Some questions to consider when deciding:
Do you fly on domestic commercial aircraft?
Do you need to access a federal facility or nuclear facility?
If the answer is yes either or both, you should consider obtaining a REAL ID complaint credential.
Beginning October 1, 2020, travelers will need to present a REAL ID compliant driver license or ID credential or another acceptable form of identification, such as a passport, in order to board commercial aircraft. If the traveler cannot provide an acceptable form of identification, they will not be permitted through the security checkpoint.