Starting July 1st, the Tennessee Department of Safety will be rolling out REAL ID driver's licenses. So just what is a REAL ID? That’s what driver's license examiner Regina Dean says people are asking.

“They’re asking a lot of questions, they know some things about it, they don't really know what it is, so they are asking,” Dean said.

The Department of Homeland Security requires all states to comply with the REAL ID Act of 2005’s minimum security standards by October of 2020.

That means starting then, to get on a domestic flight or to go into some federal buildings, you'll have to have a REAL ID license. The REAL ID’s look mostly the same, with the addition of a small gold star in the right corner.  

Before you head out to get one on July 1st, Dean says there's something you should know.

“You’re not required by federal law to have it on your driver's license,” she says. “So if those things don't apply to you, it's really not even necessary to have it unless you just choose to.”

Dean says examiners are expecting a lot of people to start asking for the new licenses. To keep up with the high demand and wait times, they say people don’t have to come by immediately.

“There's no need to rush,” Dean said. “If they're trying to get it on the license because if they do have a trip planned they need to plan accordingly."

To qualify for a REAL ID you’ll need more identifying information than before. 


  • Proof of citizenship
  • Proof of Social Security
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency documents