Small star, big change for IDs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 4, 2014

A small emblem added to Alabama Identification cards and driver licenses will have a big impact on what people can do over the next few years.

Beginning Dec. 1, new regulations will require Alabama citizens born after Dec. 1, 1964, to obtain a STAR ID in order to, among other things, board a domestic flight.

The new regulations bring Alabama in compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005, a set of anti-terror laws passed by Congress.

Covington County Probate Judge Ben Bowden said the effect the regulations will have on air travel is likely the most significant part of the change for Alabama residents.

“I think the aspect of it that is going to impact people the most is domestic air travel,” Bowden said. “A lot of us know that we are going to fly once or twice a year or more. Others are going to be kind of caught off guard about it if they need to fly and it wasn’t really expected.”

Under the new regulations, a STAR ID or unexpired U.S. passport will be needed to board a commercial flight or to enter certain federal facilities.

The STAR ID program, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will be introduced in four phases, giving Alabamians a little time to spare before the changes become mandatory.

The first two phases are planned to go into effect in April and July of 2014, and pertain only to access to restricted federal facilities. Phase three, scheduled to be implemented by January of 2015, applies to access to semi-restricted facilities. The final phase, going into effect “no sooner than 2016,” according to information form the Department of Homeland Security, applies to air travel.

No new costs will be associated with the STAR ID; however, more paperwork is part of the equation.

STAR IDs regulations will become effective for people born on or before Dec. 1, 1964, on Dec. 1, 2017.