After October 1
What is a real ID?
In 2005, the US Congress adopted the REAL ID Act to establish national standards for the issuance of identification forms. For more information you can visit the Department of Homeland Security website, but here are the most important details:
- From October 1, 2020, a regular driver's license is no longer considered a valid form of identification for domestic air travel or access to certain federal travel Services. However, other forms of identity approved by TSA, such as an American passport, are still acceptable for domestic air travel.
- If you do not upgrade to a real ID or an improved driver's license, you can still use your standard for driving, buying alcohol or traveling without an airline.
How quickly you need to upgrade your identification depends on your travel and work requirements. If your driver's license does not expire for several years and you never fly and do not work in a federal facility, it is not urgent that you upgrade.
However, if you are a frequent pilot or work in a facility with secure access, you want to visit the issuing office in your country as soon as possible to arrange things.
Which is better: Real ID or improved?
The video below (courtesy of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles) explains the differences between a REAL ID and an improved driver's license, as well as the option to stick to an old ID.
 What is the big difference? An improved driver's license is a true ID-conform form of ID. You can use it to cross country borders from the US to both Canada and Mexico without providing a passport.
If you already have a passport and don't mind taking it to cross country borders, there is no reason for an improved driver's license. If you often cross country borders (and live in a state that offers improved driving licenses), the $ 30 to $ 50 it costs to upgrade may be worth it if you don't want an extra ID number with you.