Idaho News

Know what a Star Card is? You may be sorry if you don’t get one soon

People looking to travel or enter federal buildings that require an ID for entry may need a new ID card come October 2020.

Because of new government regulations, a Star Card will be needed after Oct. 1, 2020, to fly commercially or enter federal buildings that require an ID for entry, such as military bases or national laboratories, unless you have a passport or other identification that complies with the law.

A Star Card is the same as a driver’s license or state ID card, but it includes a star in the right corner to show that the holder went through the necessary security requirements to obtain the card. Idahoans can get Star Cards at the same Division of Motor Vehicles offices where they obtain driver’s licenses.

While the deadline may seem far away, officials say those hoping to obtain Star Cards should apply for them soon and not wait until the last minute.

“The Idaho Transportation Department is strongly encouraging everyone to go early,” Jennifer Gonzalez, ITD spokeswoman, said in a phone interview. “Consider learning about what the Star Card is and what documents you need and take care of it now.”

Gonzalez said that if people wait, they could create large crowds at the DMV offices and make the process more difficult.

To get a Star Card, you need documents that verify your identity, Social Security number and Idaho residency.

To verify your identity, you will need your certified birth certificate, a valid U.S. Passport or any of several other documents that could verify identity.

To verify your Social Security number, you need a non-laminated Social Security card or W-2 form. To verify residence, you need a document that displays your name and principal Idaho residence address, such as a mortgage statement.

“It’s very important that before people go to their county DMV offices, that people go to our website or give us a call … because there are documents that you need that are not traditionally ones you carry in your wallet,” Gonzalez said. “The documents that you need may be different than the documents I need.”

As of the end of May, only 118,000 of the 1.25 million licensed drivers in Idaho had obtained a Star Card. That’s fewer than one in 10.

While it is optional, the Star Card will be needed to be in compliance with REAL ID security standards.

The REAL ID Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, and it prohibits federal agencies from accepting cards that do not meet the standards.

The law is an effort by state and federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued IDs. The law does not invalidate Idaho-issued driver’s licenses or ID cards. Cards without the star can still be used to drive, rent a car, write a check, purchase alcohol or tobacco or enter a casino.

The only restriction is at the federal level when flying commercially or accessing a federal building. And even for those, there are alternatives. People could opt out of getting a Star Card if they would rather use a U.S. passport, passport card (a wallet-size card for entering Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda), Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler card, a military ID or any of the other ID forms listed on the Star Card website when flying or entering government buildings.

In Ada County, people can obtain a Star Card at the DMV at 400 N. Benjamin Lane in Boise. In Canyon County, the DMV is at 6107 Graye Lane in Caldwell.

To see a full list of what documents you may need, use the online “Add the Star” tool, which builds a personal checklist.

Maddie Capron is an intern with the Idaho Statesman, covering general news and features. She is a recent graduate of Ohio University and grew up in Ohio. Previously, she was an intern with the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism, Garden Center and Cleveland Scene magazines.
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