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Transportation Officials Urge Residents To Act Early On Travel ID Change

Ashley Mizuo/HPR
Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Jade T. Butay with Honolulu Department of Customer Services Director Sheri Kajiwara and TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers

Government officials reminded travelers Thursday that, in about a year, a Hawaii state driver’s license or ID without a star will no longer be accepted as proper travel identification across the country, although other authorized identification such as passports can be used.

This is because star-less driver’s licenses and IDs will not comply with the federal REAL ID Act, which goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2020.

Officials from the Hawaii Department of Transportation, federal Transportation Security Administration and City and County of Honolulu want to raise awareness of the new travel requirement so that residents have enough time to obtain a REAL ID compliant document.

“We want people to be aware of the changes we also do not want them to wait until the last minute,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Jade T. Butay.

Getting a REAL ID is optional and only required for residents who plan to use their state ID or driver’s license as travel identification. All other forms of travel identification will continue to be accepted as is.

Sheri Kajiwara, director of the Honolulu Department of Customer Services, explains that in the past, details on Hawaii driver’s licenses and IDs were not strictly checked.

“We weren’t very cognizant of the details of your license, it wasn’t that important,” she said. “You could lie about your age, your weight, your height -- we let all of that go, but now we have to be very sure that the details on the card are very close to what the federal government requires.”

All of the information needed by the federal government on licenses renewed or obtained after 2014 has been stored. Those with such licenses can go online to the city website and pay $7. The REAL ID compliant card will be mailed to their residences with the original expiration date.

Other residents who want a REAL ID compliant card will have to go to a city driver licensing center with two valid forms of identification and two proofs of residence.

Kajiwara estimated that about two-thirds of Honolulu licenses have already been processed. REAL ID compliant cards have been issued since Jan. 16, 2018.

“I never expect to reach 100 percent because it is optional and there are people who do not want the star,” she said. “People have told us that they have no intention of getting the star. So how close two-thirds is to our final number, I’m not sure.”

For Neighbor Island residents, the process differs. While the state oversees the driver's licensing system, each county runs its own operation independently.

TSA’s spokeswoman Lorie Dankers warned that those who try to use an ID card after Oct. 1, 2020 that is not REAL ID compliant will not be allowed on their airplanes.

“The deadline will sneak up on all of us and that’s why we are talking about this today,” Dankers said. “Don’t be left standing where we are standing right now outside the checkpoint because you don’t have proper identification.”

Ashley Mizuo
Born and raised on O’ahu, she’s a graduate of ‘Iolani School and has a BA in Journalism and Political Science from Loyola University Chicago and an MA in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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