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Airplane travelers: new state ID or passports required to fly in late 2020

Illinois REAL ID driver’s licenses will feature a gold star in the upper right corner. They’re now available at Secretary of State facilities. | Provided

Flyers beware now . . . or be sorry in 2020.

Starting on Oct. 1, 2020, a standard state issued ID card or driver’s license that does not bear a special gold star in the top right corner will no longer get you through airport security to board domestic flights.

The specially marked ID card and driver’s licenses are now being issued across the state, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced Wednesday.

The move brings Illinois into compliance with the REAL ID ACT — a federal law aimed at increasing security measures to counter identification fraud.

Illinois will continue to issue standard ID cards and driver’s licenses that do not have the REAL ID gold star, but they will not get you through airport security starting Oct. 1 of next year. A passport can be used instead, White emphasized Wednesday.

The same REAL ID rules will also kick in at that time for entering secure federal buildings — such as the Dirksen Federal Building in the Loop.

White stressed that obtaining one of the new cards is not a requirement.

“Illinois residents are not required to purchase this new card, rather they can choose to keep their current standard driver’s license or state ID and use a valid passport to board an airplane or enter any of those buildings that come under the federal guidelines.”

“A valid passport is an acceptable alternative to a REAL ID.”

“There’s no need to panic and no need to rush to apply because current Illinois driver’s licenses and state IDs will be accepted until Oct. 1, 2020,” White spokesman Dave Druker said.

Residents seeking the new REAL ID cards will have to bring a number of personal documents into any of the Secretary of State’s facilities — except ones offering express services — to obtain a new REAL ID driver’s license or ID card.

The documents are basically the same one’s needed to get a driver’s license for the first time, Druker said.

The REAL ID marked cards will cost the same as the standard issued cards — $20 for an ID card and $30 for a driver’s license, but they cannot be renewed by mail.

White said many residents in Illinois who don’t fly will have no need to get the new REAL ID cards.