Maybe the Real ID is something you remember hearing about but aren’t sure what it is.

Maybe you were prepared for this national change and you’ve already got yours.

Or maybe you have no idea what we’re talking about.

Should you care? It depends on whether you ever fly on airplanes and if you have a passport and don’t mind carrying it on domestic flights. Chances are, you’re going to need one.

The background: Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 as part of the 9/11 Commission’s attempt to establish new security standards. The idea was to combat terrorism through increased security measures.

The deadline: Beginning on Oct. 1, if you fly commercially, you’ll either need a Real ID license or another acceptable identity document, such as a passport. If you don’t have either, plan on additional screening and delays at the airport.

The ID: The Real ID looks just like a regular driver’s license, except for a gold star watermark in the corner. (Technically, it’s a white star on a gold field, but the government likes the sound of a gold star emblem.)

The process: If your license or ID will expire before Oct. 1, you can wait until it’s time to renew and just switch to the Real ID then. If your license or ID will expire after Oct. 1, you’ll need to get a replacement with the Real ID watermark. It’ll cost you $10, but don’t worry, you don’t have to take a driving test.

The documents: Getting a Real ID is like the first time you got a license — you need to bring stuff. The federal rules require documents proving your identity and date of birth, Social Security number, and Iowa residence and residential address. For the specifics, go to for Iowa, for Illinois or for Wisconsin.

The important part: Don’t wait around. There are those who anticipate disaster, who think this will be one of those moments. And it could happen. If lots of people don’t realize the change is in effect and show up at airports in October, it could mean lots of delays and hassles. Likewise, the lines at the driver’s license stations will get longer the closer it gets to the October deadline.

We can fix this. Get your gold star — sooner rather than later. Tell your neighbors and friends to get theirs, too. This is a small step to take to ramp up security protections.

Americans have 232 days until this requirement to fly kicks in. Let’s educate ourselves and be prepared.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.