Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Florida Drivers Licenses Changes: Real ID, Smart ID

REAL ID Deadline Delayed, Again


If you have not yet gotten your “Real ID,” either in the form of your drivers license or an identification card, you are getting a reprieve. The deadline date was May 3 of this year (extended from an earlier pre-pandemic deadline). But because many states need yet more time to prepare, the Department of Homeland Security has once more extended the deadline. The new deadline is May 7, 2025. Starting on that date, anyone over age 18 who does not have REAL ID will not be allowed to board federally regulated commercial aircraft, or enter certain federal buildings. (Your passport and some other types of identification may be an acceptable substitute. The full list of acceptable alternatives can be seen here.)

The Real ID Act arose from recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. It sets more stringent federal standards for identification cards issued by the states. Real ID has one of these markings at the top right of the card:

In Florida, Real ID, whether drivers license or identification card, is obtained at  your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Florida residents are required to apply in person and must bring proof of residency, proof of social security number, and proof of identity such as a birth certificate or passport. Click here for details about what to bring.

In Florida, your drivers license is up for renewal every 8 years, up to age 79. After that, every 6 years.

More information about Real ID here (searchable by state).


SMART ID (Florida Digital Drivers License) Not Ready For Prime Time


You may have heard that Florida digital drivers licenses – Florida Smart ID – is in the works. (Do not confuse Smart ID  with Real ID as explained above. However, in order to get Smart ID, you will have to first obtain a Real ID. Yes, it can get confusing!)

Under the Florida Smart ID program, you download an app to your smartphone and apply; you then get a QR code that can be scanned by law enforcement and by stores that require identification, etc. Your Smart ID is not just a photo of your actual drivers license card. Even if you have Smart ID on your phone, you are still required to have your physical drivers license card with you when driving, and must produce it for law enforcement if requested.

Despite the Smart ID program being in development for some time, the reality is that it is not quite ready for prime time. If you have the app and Smart ID on your phone, you will find it is not useful everywhere. Many localities and retailers have not adopted the app necessary to read and verify Smart ID. For example, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office says they do not know if or when they will begin using Smart ID, since for now it is still a requirement for drivers to have their physical drivers license on them. Publix has not adopted the program yet, either. To read more about what’s going on with Florida’s Smart ID program, click here.

Stay tuned!