In these days of heightened security, soon you will not be able to board your flight with your driver’s license unless it includes a star on the upper right corner, showing it complies with the federal REAL ID Act.
If it doesn’t, you will have to show another form of identification, such as a US Passport, Trusted Traveler card (NEXUS, Global Entry, SENTRI, or FAST) or military ID to board a domestic flight.
Since most Americans don’t have one of these other acceptable forms of identification, get one now, so you can continue to be one of the more than 700 million US passengers who travel by air each year.
Simply, under the rules of the REAL ID Act, if you have no identification, or improper identification – such as a non-compliant enhanced driver’s license, you don’t fly. Period. End of discussion.
Without a REAL ID compliant identification, you also will have a problem getting into a federal office building or other facility where Homeland Security rules are followed.
This is important –
Without a REAL ID compliant form of identification, If you have to visit an IRS office to defend yourself in an audit, or get a new US Passport, you will not be able to get into the building without identification that passes the REAL ID requirements.
The new rule goes into effect October 1, 2020, so if your driver’s license is expiring any time this year, be sure your renewal is the upgraded and compliant version.
Starting in October 1, 2020, you will not be able to use your driver’s license as identification to get through security unless it has a star that identifies it as complying with the REAL ID Act.
If your driver’s license is expiring before October 2020, be sure your renewal is REAL ID compliant.
Be sure you get a new “enhanced”, or compliant version.
It costs more than the non-enhanced, non-compliant version, but that’s far less than wasting the cost of an airline ticket, and your vacation, BFF’s wedding or grandson’s Bar Mitzvah because you are denied boarding your flight.
You can use your existing non-compliant driver license until Oct. 1m 2020,
What is the REAL ID Act
The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, sets standards for which forms of identification are accepted by the federal government, including the TSA, to board any commercial flight and enter federal facilities including office buildings and military bases.
In other words – I’m repeating this for emphasis –
If you have to visit an IRS office to defend yourself in an audit, you won’t be able to get into the building without identification that passes the REAL ID requirements.
If you have to get your first US passport, you won’t be able to get into the building without identification that passes the REAL ID requirements. If you are renewing, no problem, because you need your expiring passport to renew, and that is acceptable REAL ID identification.
It’s a counter-terrorism measure that followed 9/11, that calls for states to issue driver’s licenses with such beefed up security features as scannable bar codes and digital photos, even holograms.
Currently, 48 of the 50 states are REAL ID compliant for driver’s licenses. Only Oregon and Oklahoma are not, and they have been given extensions beyond Oct. 2020 for compliance.
You can use your existing non-compliant driver license until Oct. 10, unless the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues another extension for states still not complying. Don’t hold your breath.
- Travel Tip –
- Get travel insurance so you are covered if you are denied boarding for lack of proper identification.
How to apply for a US Passport or renew the one you have that’s expiring soon.
Apply or renew now, since winter is a slow season for applications and renewals.
Processing time gets longer toward spring, when most of us begin thinking about summer vacation trips overseas.
Ditto one of the Trusted Traveler cards, which also gets you into the TSA Pre-Check fast lane.
I have Global Entry, and love it.
Global Entry includes TSA Pre-Check, so it’s a fast pass to by-passing US Customs when you return to the USA from overseas, and also a fast-pass through TSA security when you leave the USA.
It’s $100 for five years, which means it’s just $20 year to save 30 minutes or more on each domestic flight and returning international flight.
Each time I go through the TSA Pre-Check line, I tell the TSA agent checking me through that it’s the best $100 I ever spent, and I mean it.
The bottom line:
- Don’t find yourself barred from flying because you didn’t know your old-school license is no longer an acceptable form of identification.
- Airlines and TSA agents don’t want a slew of angry and confused travelers when enforcement begins.
- Get an acceptable form of identification now, while you still have time to do so.
TSA list of acceptable identification
Adult passengers 18 and over must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel.
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
- 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
- A weapon permit is not an acceptable form of identification.
- A temporary driver’s license is not an acceptable form of identification.
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