The latest survey from Upgraded Points reveals American awareness of and preparedness for the REAL ID Act. Passed by Congress in 2005, the Act is set to take effect on May 7, 2025, after multiple delays.
Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. These purposes are:
- Accessing certain federal facilities
- Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft
- Entering nuclear power plants
A survey of over 2,000 participants shows that Americans share a widespread misunderstanding of the Act’s requirements and timeline. The study also uncovers significant gaps in both knowledge and readiness, indicating a pressing need for heightened nationwide education and action.
“It’s clear there’s a significant difference in awareness, especially across different states and demographic groups,” said Miller. “Far too many are still in the dark about the impending requirements and timeline. As we move towards the enforcement date, our aim is to shine a light on these gaps and to empower all travelers with the information they need to navigate this transition smoothly and successfully.”
“We’re trying to get the word out with this one because there are some looming problems on the horizon, especially if states don’t act fast,” said Alex Miller, Founder of Upgraded Points. “We found that most Americans have a major misunderstanding of the Act, and most importantly, when exactly they need to have their IDs secured. And that’s a potentially big problem.” Study Methodology
The study analyzed responses from 2,150 participants across a variety of questions regarding the participants’ knowledge and preparedness for the REAL ID Act – including whether they know exactly what the ID is, whether they have it already, and whether they plan to get it. Due to multiple extensions causing confusion around the REAL ID start date, the survey questioned participants about their awareness of the true implementation date. And to assess the overall level of readiness across different states, each question was assigned a ranking score ranging from 0 to 5, with 5 indicating the most prepared.
The sum of these scores then gave each state a total score out of 100, with a higher score indicating a higher level of preparedness.
- California, Indiana, and Nevada lead in readiness, scoring 69.89, 68.08, and 66.82 out of 100, respectively.
- The states least prepared for the Act include Alabama, Nebraska, and Georgia, with scores of 27.15, 29.54, and 34.76.
- Nationwide, 78% of Americans are aware of the Act, but Baby Boomers and Gen Z are the least likely to have heard about it, with 69.6% and 72% lacking awareness.
- Self-proclaimed frequent travelers are 19% more likely to know about the issue.
- The average American believes the deadline falls on January 22, 2024 – 470 days prior to the actual start date.
- Over 25% of respondents incorrectly believe the enforcement date has already passed.
- One-third of Americans admit they don’t know how to obtain an ID, with 30.6% indicating they have no plans to obtain one at all.
Due to insufficient sample sizes, the study omitted Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. REAL ID 2025 – Key Findings