Travel will be changing for millions of citizens who reside in the United States next year.

Starting in October 2020, all individuals who will be flying domestically will need to have a REAL ID in their possession to pass through security checkpoints at airports. This new identification card is a requirement through the REAL ID Act, which was established by the Department of Homeland Security. Here is everything you need to know about the REAL ID Act:

What is the REAL ID Act?

The REAL ID Act was established in the wake of September 11 and was passed by Congress in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission recommended that standards be set for sources of identification. The main intention of the act is to set standards on how ID cards are issued, but also to how they are used. The ID cards are meant to stop the production of fake IDs while assuring people are who they claim to be. The ID cards are embedded with new technology aimed to help prevent airline terrorism.

What does the REAL ID card look like?

You can tell if a card is the REAL ID card by either a gold or black star which in most cases, will be present on the front of the card. In some states, a star is not present. However, you can identify if the card is not compliant if it states “not for federal identification.” The new technology present in the cards will make it more difficult for counterfeit cards to be produced.

When will the REAL ID card go into effect?

Right now, every state is either compliant with the REAL ID Act requirements or has requested an extension. There are about 11 states that have received an extension, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California. Those states that have been granted an extension are in the process of implementing secure identification standards. By October 2020, everyone traveling domestically will need to possess the REAL ID Card.

Do I need to get a REAL ID card?

Technically, no. It is not mandatory for U.S. citizens to get a new identification card. However, if you wish to travel domestically, you will either need the new ID card or a passport. Because passports are more costly and can have a longer turnaround time, many will find a greater benefit from obtaining the REAL ID card. Aside from boarding commercial aircraft, individuals will also need to possess the card to enter federal facilities and nuclear plants. You will need to visit a D.M.V in your state to receive the card.