If you are planning on traveling this fall, your driver’s license may no longer be accepted at airport security. This change is due to the REAL ID Act under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If the state you reside in is not in compliance with the requirements for government issued ID’s — and if it does not receive another extension — starting in October, TSA will not accept your driver’s license as identification for boarding a commercial aircraft.
Currently, about half the states and territories in the U.S. are not in compliance with government issued ID’s. Most of these states have been granted an extension by the DHS until October 10, 2018. DHS will determine if any future extensions will be given.
If you live in one of the states that has been granted an extension, you may want to plan ahead and get an alternate form of ID in case your state does not comply by the deadline.
Other forms of acceptable ID’s at U.S. airports include:
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
- Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
If you plan on getting a passport, allow extra time for processing in 2018, since this will be a busy year for passport renewals. It’s been ten years since passports were required for travel to Canada and Mexico, so these are all coming up for renewal.
Non-compliant States/Territories (Granted an Extension until October 10, 2018):
Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands are under review.
For more information on the REAL ID Act and a map of states that are not in compliance, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
What is the REAL ID Act?
The REAL ID Act requires states to add more security measures prior to issuing a driver’s license or identification card (to prevent the use of fraudulent ID’s). This includes verifying the applicant’s identity (proof of legal residence and date of birth), utilizing anti-counterfeit technology in the card, and doing a background check on state employees that issue driver’s licenses.
Travelers are receiving a heads-up on the upcoming ID requirements. It’s “travel as usual” for now, but be prepared for possible changes this October.
For insightful travel ideas, check out my book:
Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad