Real ID Assistance

The REAL ID effort was enacted by Congress in 2005 as a standard set forth in the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. Since then, it has been a coordinated effort between the Federal Government and all 50 states, specifically the Department of Homeland Security and affiliated agencies in each state. The purpose is to deter or inhibit a terrorist’s ability to utilize fraudulent identification and proceed under the radar, specifically when it comes to boarding commercial aircraft and accessing federal facilities and/or nuclear power plants.

REAL ID has been implemented in phases, with the final phase set to begin on October 1, 2020. This final phase will require ticket-holders to present a REAL ID when boarding commercial flights.

Each state has worked to coordinate their individual implementation process, as well as informing their citizens. In Tennessee, the effort is led by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

I hope the following information is helpful to you in making decisions for you and your family.

Required Documents for Application:

  • Proof to establish citizenship or legal presence
  • Proof of your full Social Security Number
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency

Each document must be an original or certified. If you have had any name changes, documentation will be required for verification. Please note, all requirements pertain to Tennessee license and ID holders seeking a REAL ID, as well as new Tennessee residents with a REAL ID issued in another state.

Applying for a REAL ID:

In addition to Tennessee’s 44 full-service driver services centers and the Downtown Nashville Express Center, a limited list of county clerks (two in our district) are issuing REAL IDs to current Tennessee driver license and ID holders. Additional County Clerk partners will begin issuing REAL ID in the coming months.

Participating Sixth District County Clerks:

Additional participation County Clerks in Tennessee:

Alternative Identification:

Beginning October 1, 2020, alternative forms of identification for airplane boarding will include:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS designated enhanced driver's license
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD12 PIV card
  • Foreign government issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

A REAL ID is not required to:

  • Drive or vote
  • Purchase alcohol or cigarettes
  • Access federal courts or hospitals
  • Visit the post office
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (i.e. social security or veterans’ benefits)

Additional Resources: