Star ID

Changes are coming for many Alabama residents who want to continue flying on domestic routes, thanks to the state’s newly-announced deadline for federally-mandated ID enhancements that will require most fliers to upgrade their driver’s licenses at the nearest DMV office.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey this week announced Oct. 1 of next year as the deadline for residents to obtain the more thoroughly-vetted STAR ID version of their driver’s licenses, a move that comes in response to Congress’ timeline for implementing travel security measures first introduced with the passage of the REAL ID Act of 2005.

Cullman County residents who wish to fly domestically, as well as gain access to security-sensitive sites like federal courthouses and military installations, will need to visit the Driver’s License division in the basement of the Cullman County Courthouse to upgrade their licenses. The new licenses look much the same as the current version, but include a gold star at the top left of the license card to denote STAR ID compliance.

Rodney Hardy of the Cullman DMV office said that locals interest in obtaining a STAR ID has been steady in the years since it first became optional. But now that it’s a year away from being mandatory for domestic air travel, he expects traffic through his office to increase.

“The state had kept putting this off because not every state had complied with the mandate yet,” he explained. “But with everyone having to comply by October of 2020, it’ll be busier.”

Hardy explained that current license holders accustomed to renewing their licenses at the probate office will still be able to do that, once they’ve first obtained a STAR ID license at the downstairs DMV. The only instance in which an additional visit to the DMV would be required, he said, is in the event that a license holder changes addresses without moving to a new state, in which case a new DMV visit would be required to acquire a STAR ID that reflects the updated address information.

STAR IDs require additional documentation that goes beyond what’s required to obtain a standard driver’s license (which, for non-fliers, will still be available as before). “License commissioners and probate offices across the state will still offer driver license and ID renewals and duplicates, but you must visit one of our agency’s Driver License offices to obtain your first STAR ID,” said ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor via a press release.

An Alabama resident wishing to obtain a STAR ID must show up at the DMV with an original or certified copy (but not photocopied) birth certificate, birth certificate or a valid, unexpired U.S. passport; a Social Security card; and two documents verifying the resident’s address of principal residence.

At a press conference this week, Ivey urged Alabama residents to consider obtaining the new STAR ID (STAR stands for “Secure, Trusted and Reliable Identification”), which is Alabama’s version of the official identification mandated by the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.

“One year from today, on Oct. 1, 2020, all air travelers will need a STAR ID for commercial domestic flights and to visit certain federal facilities,” said Ivey at the press conference. “Those who hold a valid, unexpired U.S. passport may opt to use it for domestic air travel. If there is a chance you will need one, I encourage you to obtain this more secure version of Alabama’s driver license or non-driver ID card within the next few months to ensure you are prepared by the federal deadline.”

The STAR ID is Alabama’s state-issued identification that conforms to guidelines set by the REAL ID program, which was developed about nine years ago. The legislation modified federal law pertaining to security, authentication and issuance procedure standards for driver licenses and non-driver IDs, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Though STAR ID was first introduced in the fall of 2011, the federal deadline of Oct. 1 of next year makes having the ID not optional for anyone who intends to make a commercial domestic flight and gain access to federally-controlled areas deemed in the Act as security-sensitive. To date, more than 450,000 STAR IDs have been issued in Alabama, the governor’s office said.

Alabama residents can visit the Driver License Division page on ALEA’s website,, to schedule a STAR ID appointment at one of ALEA’s Driver License Examining Offices.

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