Iowa DOT News Release

Do You Need a REAL ID? New Online Service Helps Those That Do

Posted on: February 28, 2013

AMES, Iowa – Feb. 28, 2013 – On Jan. 15, 2013, the Iowa Department of Transportation began issuing REAL ID-approved driver’s licenses (DLs) and nonoperator’s identification (ID) cards that meet federal standards for physical security and verification of identity and legal presence in the United States. A REAL ID-approved document is also a valid form of federally issued identification, such as a U.S. passport book or card.

Iowa’s REAL ID DL or nonoperator ID card looks nearly identical to a standard DL or nonoperator ID card, is made of the same material and contains the same advanced security features. The only difference is the star verification mark appearing in the upper right-hand corner of the card, which indicates to federal screening officials that the person’s identity has been verified according to the latest federal standards.

Do you need a REAL ID-approved card?
A new applicant for an Iowa DL or nonoperator ID card is already required to present the documents necessary to obtain a REAL ID-approved card; and will be automatically issued a REAL ID-approved card upon successful completion of the application process.  

Existing Iowa DL or nonoperator ID card holders are not required to get a REAL ID-approved card, but may apply for one if needed. 

In the future, a REAL ID-approved card may be needed for certain federal purposes – specifically, to board a plane, enter a federal building that requires identification to enter or enter a nuclear power plant. If you do not plan to do any of these activities, or will do so infrequently, you may decide you do not need a REAL ID-approved card.  

You do not need a REAL ID-approved DL or nonoperator ID card if you have another form of federally approved identification. Valid U.S. passport books and cards, as well as other forms of federally issued identification, are accepted forms of identification for all of the REAL ID purposes. 

 New online tool helps REAL ID applicants gather the required documents
So, you’ve decided you need a REAL ID. What’s next? 

Applying for a REAL ID-approved DL or nonoperator ID card is just like applying for your first Iowa driver’s license. You must present documents that establish your identity and date of birth, Social Security number, residency and residential address, any name changes, and fact that you are lawfully in the United States. This rule applies regardless of how long you have had your driver’s license.  

Knowing what documents to bring to the DL station can sometimes be confusing. So, the Iowa DOT has developed a new online application that allows you to build a personal checklist. It’s called “Prepare for Success” and is available at

Answer six simple questions and — SUCCESS — you have your list.  Then just gather those documents together.  

There is no reason to rush out and get a REAL ID.

Most Iowans can wait until their driver’s license renewal date to apply for a REAL ID, if they are interested in obtaining one.  

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has previously postponed compliance dates as states have worked to adopt the REAL ID requirements, and recently indicated that it intends to review the state and individual compliance dates, and then release a new and extended schedule this fall. The exact time this schedule will be released and new compliance dates it will propose are not yet known. However, these are the current compliance dates, which vary according to your date of birth. The Iowa DOT will continue to monitor these changes and provide information as it becomes available.   

  • If you were born after Dec. 1, 1964, your federal compliance date is Dec. 1, 2014. Beginning Dec. 1, 2014, federal officials may ask you for REAL ID-approved identification when boarding aircraft, entering federal facilities that require ID to enter and entering nuclear power plants. 
  • If you were born on or before Dec. 1, 1964, your federal compliance date is not until Dec. 1, 2017. 

 Learn more about REAL ID

  • Log on to Iowa DOT’s REAL ID website at
  • Call the toll-free information line at 800-532-1121, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., except state holidays.
  • Visit your nearest driver’s license issuance site.



Contact: Mark Lowe at 515-237-3210 or



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