After 20 years of delays and State extensions, REAL ID is coming soon. Will you be able to fly? This post will guide you through what you need to know to be REAL ID compliant so you will be able to board commercial flights in the United States.
What Is REAL ID?
The concept of REAL ID was to enact a more robust system of air passenger identification after the terrorist act of September 11, 2001. This requirement has taken 20 years to formally enact.
Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. These purposes are:
- Accessing certain federal facilities
- Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft
- Entering nuclear power plants
What Happens When The REAL ID Enforce Date Begins?
This is kind of like the boy who cried wolf but this time, the wolf is real. Over the past two decades, there have been bungled starts and increasing delays in implementing this program. The primary reason for the delays and extensions is that State offices that handle driver’s licenses have had to change their systems to comply. Covid-19 was also a factor in additional delays. For most people, the REAL ID form for them will be an enhanced driver’s license. The date for implementing REAL ID is May 3, 2023.
Federal agencies, including DHS and TSA, may only accept state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards as identification for purposes of accessing federal facilities – including TSA airport security checkpoints – if the license or card was issued by a REAL ID-compliant state in accordance with the REAL ID security standards (meaning the license or card must include the REAL ID compliant star marking). Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) issued by Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-compliant cards and will also be accepted for official REAL ID purposes. Most EDLs do not contain the star marking and this is acceptable.
Are All States Issuing REAL ID-Compliant Cards?
DHS is working closely with all states and territories to provide assistance and guidance to achieve full compliance by the May 3, 2023 deadline. As of March 26, 2021, 55 states and territories are fully compliant with the REAL ID requirements, and all states are on track to begin issuing compliant licenses and IDs by the May 3, 2023 deadline.
American Samoa is under review for REAL ID enforcement, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from American Samoa at Federal facilities, nuclear power plants and federally regulated commercial aircraft.
How Do I Get REAL ID?
Visit your state’s driver’s licensing agency website to find out exactly what documentation is required to obtain a REAL ID. At a minimum, you must provide documentation showing: 1) Full Legal Name; 2) Date of Birth; 3) Social Security Number; 4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence; and 5) Lawful Status.
States may impose additional requirements, so check with your state’s driver’s licensing agency website, before visiting them in person, for additional guidance and assistance.
There are other forms of identification that will be accepted and they will be listed below.
How Do I Know If My License Or ID Card Is REAL ID Compliant?
REAL ID-compliant cards will have one of the following markings on the upper top portion of the card. If the card does not have one of these markings, it is not REAL ID-compliant and won’t be accepted as proof of identity in order to board commercial aircraft.
Other Forms Of Acceptable Identification
Adult passengers 18 and older must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel. The T.S.A. doesn’t require children under the age of 18 to show any identification right now when they’re traveling domestically with an adult. Most states will charge an additional fee for a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. You may already have an acceptable form of identification:
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
- Beginning May 3, 2023, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S., make sure it is REAL ID compliant. If you are not sure if your ID complies with REAL ID, check with your state department of motor vehicles.
- 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
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
- An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized, Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
- 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
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
In coordination with its DHS counterparts, TSA has identified acceptable alternate identification for use in special circumstances at the checkpoint.
I have Global Entry. For the cost of $100.00 ($15.00 more than TSA PreCheck), I get five years of Global Entry which:
- Gets me TSA PreCheck,
- Expedites my return to the U. S. through immigration and
- Issues me a Global Entry card which qualifies as REAL ID compliant.
This is it, the years of delays are over and the REAL ID requirement will be enacted on May 3, 2023. There are multiple ways to satisfy the positive identification requirement needed to board commercial flights in the United States. Most people will probably go the route of obtaining a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. They are other satisfactory forms of positive ID. For me, I have Global Entry and I use my Global Entry Card at TSA checkpoints.