There’s still time to get Real ID travel-ready

Wednesday, September 1, 2021by  PEMCO Insurance

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​You have to look pretty hard to find silver linings from the pandemic, but maybe this is one. You now have extra time to get your Real ID in place, which will be required for boarding domestic plane flights beginning May 3, 2023. For people who don't already have a passport, upgrading their driver's license probably is the easiest way to meet the Real ID requirement. Even if you're just in the wait-and-see stage for booking your first post-pandemic adventure, this is a great first step to getting back to traveling! 


In Washington, you can request an enhanced driver's license at your next regular renewal. But if that won't be soon enough, you can replace your regular license any time. Here's a list of documentation you'll need to prove your identity at a Department of Licensing facility that issues enhanced driver's licenses (verify the location and its available services before you go). 

Compared to a regular Washington driver's license, an enhanced driver's license contains a barcode and an RFID chip with a reference number that's used to confirm that the information printed on your card is the same as what's in the state's secured database. That makes it harder to fake than a regular driver's license. It doesn't transmit any kind of signal or contain personally identifying information. It also displays the word "enhanced" and an American flag symbol.  

You'll pay an additional fee for an enhanced driver's license. 

While a Washington enhanced driver's license also can be used to enter Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean by land or sea, it doesn't satisfy international air travel requirements. For that, you'll still need a passport. 


In Oregon, you can get a Real ID driver's license that will satisfy upcoming domestic flight requirements. It's not the same as a Washington enhanced driver's license because it doesn't allow the land and sea crossings between Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. You'll still need a passport. 

Real ID driver's licenses do require an appointment, and the Oregon Department of Transportation has developed an FAQ page to help you get ready. As in Washington, there's an added fee for the upgraded license. 

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