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Don’t want to miss your flight next year? Take heed, Idaho: This deadline matters

Unless you get a Star Card — see that star in the upper right? — by next May, you won’t be able to use your Idaho drivers license to board a flight. | Idaho Transportation Department
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — While passengers wheeled suitcases to a security checkpoint at the Boise Airport on Tuesday, transportation officials detailed a message that more than half of travelers may still need to hear: Come next spring, Idaho residents with only a standard driver’s license will find themselves turned away from their flight.
That is, if a 17-year-delayed federal law finally is enforced in a state that has long resisted federal rules.
Three hundred and sixty-five days from Tuesday, the majority of Americans who travel on commercial aircraft with a driver’s license will need a “Star Card” to get through security — a version of a license with enhanced security that is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Real ID” program.
The Real ID system dates from the early years of post-9/11 America, when national security agencies sought to heighten standards for identification to ensure recipients’ IDs match with a verified resident.
Implementation of the program has been delayed for years, in part because a number of states resisted the federal efforts to impose license rules. States like Idaho, which for a decade forbade the Idaho Transportation Department from implementing the federal program.
The Real ID Act was enacted by Congress in 2005, with an initial implementation deadline of 2008.
Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke was in the Legislature back then, and voted with a unanimous House in 2008 to pass a bill calling the ID program “inimical to the security and well-being of the people of Idaho.” The law prohibited the Idaho Transportation Department from carrying out the program.
Federal officials were lenient in the ensuing years and extended the deadline, as Idaho was not alone in balking at the federal requirement.
Idaho’s rebellion lasted until 2016, when lawmakers in Boise passed a bill — which Bedke, a Republican who had by then become House Speaker, also supported — allowing the state to implement Real ID. Begrudgingly, though.
Legislators deleted the “inimical” line from state law, but retained a sentence calling the federal law a “violation of the principles of federalism,” and added more: “The legislature reaffirms this position, while acknowledging that failure to implement certain provisions could adversely affect Idaho’s citizens and businesses.”
“When it was first presented to the Legislature, there was some reluctance, given our libertarian nature sometimes in the state Legislature,” Bedke said at the Tuesday news conference. When the Legislature allowed the state to adopt the program almost a decade later, it gave residents a choice: They could choose to participate in the federally standardized ID program, or not.
The change may also mirror a shift in emphasis in the Republican Party: while conservatives, like those at the Cato Institute, have long focused on personal independence and limited government oversight, the right wing in recent years has honed in on election security. Idaho’s Legislature has passed several laws limiting what types of ID residents can use at the polls.
“We want to verify where you live, we want to verify who you are, not only for the purposes of traveling but also for the purposes of voting,” Bedke said. “And I think that this becomes a good way to accomplish both.”
Bedke said he has his own Star Card now, and that it was “painless” to get.
“It’s all about traveler safety and national security,” he said.

Idaho Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke addresses the coming Star Card deadline at a Tuesday news conference. Beginning May 7, 2025, Idahoans will need a Star Card driver’s license to board a commercial flight. | Ian Max Stevenson, Idaho Statesman
Still, the Legislature’s hesitancy has been reflected in Idaho’s population. In 2019, two years after the state began implementing the program, less than one in 10 Idahoans had gotten the new ID, according to previous Statesman reporting.
Numbers have ticked up considerably since then, to the point that 49% of residents now have a Star Card. But that still means that fewer than half of the people in the state have the driver’s license they will need in 12 months to board an airplane.
Did the state’s reluctance to get on board delay the program’s uptake?
Lisa McClellan, administrator for the Division of Motor Vehicles, said she doesn’t think so, as it took a number of states a long time to get the program started.
“These are big changes for all the states to accommodate,” she said. Though she added that if Idaho had jumped to get into compliance with the program sooner, “we would be ahead of the curve.”
As of 2021, 43% of state-issued IDs across the nation were Star Cards, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
If you want to use your driver’s license to get on a plane, or enter a federally secured building, then you will need a Star Card beginning May 7, 2025. If you don’t have a star in the corner of your license, you’ll be turned away.
But you don’t technically have to get a Star Card to get through the airport. Residents without one will still be able to use a passport, military ID or some other federal IDs to get through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, better known as TSA.
In addition to the general paperwork requirements for a regular state driver’s license, Idahoans need to provide essentially one more type of identification: proof of residency, McClellan said. Idahoans can use a passport, birth certificate or Social Security card, tax form, lease agreement, and other documents, to verify they are who they say.
The Star Card costs the same as a regular license.
ITD has a personalized website where residents can provide information about themselves — what kind of documents they currently have, for instance — and learn whether they have everything they need to qualify. The identifying information provided to the Division of Motor Vehicles to obtain a Star Card is “held securely” and not entered into a national database, according to ITD.
McClellan said she urges people not to delay, noting that when she got her Star Card, she had to order a new birth certificate first, which took two months.
Idaho licenses can be renewed up to 25 months before the listed expiration date. But if Idahoans who want a Star Card have a current driver’s license that won’t expire until years down the road, they can still get a Star Card from the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will be a duplicate license, McClellan said.
“Don’t take that chance and end up being grounded,” said Andy Coose, federal security director for TSA in Idaho, at the news conference. “This has real consequences after May 7 next year.”
Implementation of the program has been delayed — a lot. One 2020 deadline was extended to 2023 because of the pandemic, which in 2022 was pushed again to the current 2025 date.
Officials say this time, the clock is really ticking.
“We are being told that this is a firm deadline, and that there’s no more kicking the can down the road,” Coose said. “And so I’m going with that.”
The post Don’t want to miss your flight next year? Take heed, Idaho: This deadline matters appeared first on East Idaho News.

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