MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — The deadline to get a STAR ID has been extended several times, but the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says people don’t have much time left before they have to get one in order to fly domestically.

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The STAR ID, which stands for Secure, Trusted and Reliable Identification, is Alabama’s version of the REAL ID, a program launched by the federal government in 2005, in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement deadline is currently set for May 3, 2023. the deadline has been pushed back multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on driver license agencies. The agency will require people to show either a special license or a valid U.S. passport to board U.S. domestic commercial flights.

ALEA has successfully completed the upgrade and modernization of the Agency’s new statewide Driver License System, known as LEADS.

LEADS allows you to apply for your license online before showing up to the office. You can also renew or replace your license, update emergency contact information and request to see your driver record.

“As we continue to improve the quality of driver license services across our great state through innovation and the full integration of technology with our new LEADS system, we recognize the necessity to take this opportunity to remind Alabama citizens of the upcoming deadline and requirements as it relates to obtaining a STAR ID on an Alabama Driver License,” said ALEA’s Secretary Hal Taylor in a release.

ALEA offers online assistance with the STAR ID application process, as well as to determine eligibility. The guide includes a checklist for requirements and necessary documents, a list of ALEA Driver License Examining Office locations across the state and the option to schedule an appointment at many of our locations.

ALEA Driver License Division Chief Jonathan Archer said, “Since launching LEADS on Tuesday, April 26, a number of customers have asked whether the STAR ID is among the list of expanded online services, however, due to the federal requirements, STAR IDs must be obtained by visiting an ALEA Driver License Office in-person. Driver License Examiners are required to examine and scan documents into LEADS per federal law. However, once customers receive their first STAR ID issuance they may renew online or at a probate or license commissioner’s office.”

You will be asked to bring required documents that will be used to establish your identity and date of birth, confirm your authorized presence in the United States, and verify your primary address. Read a list of required documents here.

Director of ALEA’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) Colonel Jimmy Helms said, “The advantages of LEADS allow Driver License employees to complete daily tasks more efficiently, allowing a greater number of customers to be served. The initial feedback received from those customers who have experienced LEADS through both online and in-person use has been overwhelmingly positive. We encourage everyone to visit our Agency’s website prior to a STAR ID issuance to ensure citizens understand all document requirements before traveling to an ALEA Driver License Office.”

Secretary Taylor added, “We encourage all citizens to take advantage of the resources and information provided online to determine whether they are eligible for a STAR ID and to begin gathering the necessary documents to obtain a STAR on your license. While Alabama does not require its citizens to have a STAR ID, it will be a requirement of DHS beginning in May 2023, to have a STAR on your license or be required to provide additional proof of identity such as a valid, current U.S. Passport to board a domestic commercial flight.”

For more information about Alabama’s STAR ID program, check out these answers to frequently asked questions.