What You Need to Know to Prepare for the Real ID Act in 2018

Since the US Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, it has taken over 10 years to get states to comply with the new requirements. Even now, extensions for various states have been set until October 2018. The enforcement of the Real ID Act has been making headlines in travel-related news. Domestic travelers in the US are beginning to see signs at airports that a new type of driver’s license will be needed to get through airports and board planes. While many states are issuing Real IDs, confusion is rampant as to whether or not a Real ID is necessary, especially since a few years ago, many states were vocally in opposition to the law and even passed laws to reject the federal measure. Today, however, all states are complying with the legislature and here is what you need to know.

Definition of a Real ID

The Real ID Act was born from a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission after it was determined that hijackers boarded planes by presenting their driver’s licenses at security checkpoints. It is meant to provide stronger security around establishing the identity of a person.

This new form of identification is harder to forge, machine-readable, and is an effort to create stronger security measures around state-issued IDs. One way to identify compliance is from a small gold or black star that will be on the new IDs. All states must be able to issue new compliant IDs. However, it is up to the individual to apply for a compliant ID.

How to get a Real ID

A visit to the DMV is required to apply for a Real ID card. Applicants need to present the following documents:

  • Proof of Identity: Such as a US birth certificate, valid passport, or permanent resident card
  • Proof of Social Security Number: Such as a Social Security card or W-2
  • Proof(s) of Residency in the State: Documents include rental agreement, mortgage bill, utility bill, or medical insurance card

Other documents that would be helpful include proof of name change in the case of marriage, divorce, or court decree. Some states require multiple documents proving residency in the state, so it would be best to check with the DMV of the state for a checklist of required documents

Timeline of the Real ID Roll-out

  • Congress passes Real ID Act in 2005
  • Visitors to military bases must present Real ID or other approved ID starting October 10, 2017
  • All travelers on domestic flights must present Real ID or other approved ID starting January 22, 2018
  • All states must be able to issue Real IDs by October 2018
  • All domestic flight travelers must present Real ID compliant license by October 2020

Starting January 22, the TSA is requiring travelers to present a compliant ID or other forms of approved ID such as a passport. However, most states have received extensions to comply with the law, so for most people, a new form of ID is not needed to board a commercial flight until October 2020. As many states are still in the process of implementing and issuing new IDs, it would be wise to check ahead of any travel to make sure whether or not your ID is Real ID compliant.

Situations that require a Real ID

In addition to domestic air travel, a compliant driver’s license is needed to enter certain federal facilities which require ID such as military bases. Visitors and vendors will be turned away if the ID card presented is not Real ID compliant, so if your business is looking to establish military contracts it will be crucial for your employees to have compliant IDs.

A Real ID is not needed to:

  • Drive
  • Vote
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration)
  • Enter a federal facility that does not require ID (post office)
  • Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services


Some groups such as the ACLU and libertarian-leaning states have voiced concerns about possible consequences. The new license is, some have argued, a national ID card and causes concerns that the federal government will create a database and track individuals. Another issue would be the demarcation of compliant vs. non-compliant licenses. In states such as California, driver’s licenses can be issued to undocumented individuals. However, these licenses will not be Real ID compliant. One hypothetical situation that is troubling is whether not carrying a compliant license may become a cause for detention or checking immigration status. Other groups that might be affected include the Amish and other religious communities, or the LGBTQ community such as a transgender person’s birth certificate not matching to other documents. As the roll-out continues, the effect of implementing the Real ID law across the country remains to be seen.



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How Machine Learning is Taking Identity Proofing Solutions to a Whole New Level

Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables computers to make human-like decisions, creating efficiencies that were previously unachievable. AI powers everyday technologies such as search engines, self-driving cars, and facial recognition apps. This technology is also leveraged for consumer identity access and management to protect consumers and businesses against fraud.

The Growth of ID-based Transactions

Banking, healthcare, government and many other industries employ ID verification and authentication to get accurate information about their customers and prevent ID fraud. As fraudulent transactions continue to rise, the need for a strong, customer-friendly identity proofing solution becomes critical.

Artificial Intelligence, and its subsets of machine learning and deep learning, make it possible to accurately process, verify, and authenticate identities at scale. Machine learning enables solutions to continually improve by learning from their data collection mechanism. This, in turn, informs the operation and performance of the software. For an in-depth look at machine learning and how it applies to your industry, read our latest white paper: Beyond Machine Learning.

Machine Learning for ID Proofing

Machine learning is an extremely efficient tool for discerning between real and fraudulent IDs. Computer software that is constantly learning and correcting itself can process millions of transactions at a rate unachievable by human experts.

However, IDs are physical documents that endure wear and tear, and may feature manufacturing discrepancies. If the model for passing or failing IDs is based on only a few samples, many real IDs will fail the test. This is where human oversight comes into play.

Machines and Humans Working Together for Highest Accuracy

Trained professionals using the software can step in to prevent bad customer experiences when the software flags a legitimate ID because it is damaged or worn.

During the rare instances where the computer fails to identify what is wrong with an ID, the professional can apply their expert eye, determine what error occurred and teach the computer how to spot the issue in the future. This creates a different method of learning where new information is being input to the learning model so the model can improve.

The benefits of machine learning combined with human expertise is the current standard in identity proofing solutions. Businesses want to be able to approve all good customers from the start with no friction. A good ID verification solution will do just that. In addition, when looking for a provider, businesses need to consider scope of expertise. Providers experienced in ID-based transactions across multiple industries help to ensure machines will have a model that has encountered multiple scenarios for failing or passing an ID.


Artificial Intelligence increases customer security and prevents fraud. Identity proofing providers are a trusted source to collect evidence of fraud, and through machine learning, that evidence can be analyzed and applied continuously to ensure higher accuracy.

Acuant is among the world leaders in applying machine learning to identity proofing solutions. Over the past 20 years, Acuant has accumulated the industry’s largest identity document library with government-issued ID documents and passports from over 190 countries. Acuant technology also has the ability to read characters in almost any language to ensure business are providing the most customer-friendly experience to instantly approve more good customers.

To join Acuant’s group of industry-leading partners, talk to an ID Solutions Specialist today.


Beyond Machine Learning