Traveling domestically in 2018? Make sure you have the right credentials!

By now, you’ve probably heard of the REAL ID Act. Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act establishes “minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards,” according to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

So what does this mean for domestic air travel in 2018?

Well, it means if you possess a state-issued driver’s license or identification card that is not REAL ID compliant and your state has not been granted an extension by DHS, you will not be allowed to use that form of identification for domestic air travel effective January 22, 2018. You will be required to present an alternative form of TSA Acceptable Identification.

Beginning October 1, 2020, all travelers will be required to present state-issued REAL ID compliant identification or another form of TSA Acceptable Identification for domestic air travel.

How do I know if my state is compliant?

To check if your state is REAL ID compliant, visit https://www.dhs.gov/real-id.

My state is listed as COMPLIANT. I should be okay, right?

If your state is listed as compliant, check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website or contact your state’s DMV office to make sure your current issued driver’s license or identification card is a REAL ID compliant card.

Your state’s DMV office will likely issue REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards when your current card is renewed or replaced (which will require a trip to the DMV to present certain documents). As such, your current card may not be REAL ID compliant. If your current card is not REAL ID compliant, your state’s DMV website or office will be able to provide you with the information necessary to apply for a REAL ID compliant card.

My state is listed as EXTENSION. What does that mean?

If your state has been granted an extension by DHS, you will be able to continue using your current state-issued driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel until October 10, 2018. Note that states must re-apply for extensions and DHS grants extensions only on an annual basis. Check your state’s DMV website or with your state’s DMV office for updates on when REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards will become available.

My state is listed as UNDER REVIEW. What does that mean?

If your state is listed as UNDER REVIEW, it means DHS is reviewing your state’s request for an extension for extensions that expired on October 10, 2017. In the meantime, you can continue using your current state-issued driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel until January 22, 2018. Check back on the DHS website and your state’s DMV website for further updates.

I have a state-issued Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) or Enhanced Identification Card (ENDID). Will this be acceptable for domestic air travel or will I need to get a REAL ID compliant card?

A state-issued Enhanced Driver’s License or Enhanced Identification card are “designated as acceptable border-crossing documents by DHS under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative,”  according to DHS and are considered TSA Acceptable Identification for domestic air travel.

Is it me or does REAL ID compliance seem complicated?

Unfortunately, it does seem complicated and there’s a lot of information (and at times confusing information) out there. The best thing to do is stay informed! If your state is not yet compliant, check back on the DHS website and your state’s DMV website for the latest updates. If your state is compliant, just make sure your state issued driver’s license or identification card is REAL ID compliant before you use it for domestic air travel. If you can’t get clear information from your state’s DMV website, contact or visit your state’s DMV office.

Additional Resources:

REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions for the Public

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