*Due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the national emergency declaration, the Department of Homeland Security is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline by a year. The new deadline for REAL ID enforcement is October 1, 2021. (More details).
Beginning *October 1, 2021, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States.
A little more than a year away, the TSA is changing its identification requirements. Here’s exactly what this means for you, and how TSA “REAL ID” protocol affects future air travel. Effective on
Oct. 1, 2020 (Extended to October 1, 2021) travelers will not be allowed to board a flight without a REAL ID, or some kind of alternative identification such as a passport.
If you have been inside an airport recently, you may have seen signage at TSA checkpoints that announce there are going to be changes to what constitutes an acceptable ID for air travel.
In fact, the TSA has begun an awareness program to educate flyers. At many TSA checkpoints (where they verify your documents) if your ID is not REAL ID Compliant, you may hear the agent say “Next year, beginning October 2021 you would not be allowed to fly with your current ID.”
Well, soon, the TSA Real ID requirements will mean you must have compliant identification cards for domestic air travel.
First, What Is TSA Compliant REAL ID?
Soon the TSA Will Require You to Have a REAL ID to Fly
REAL ID is the result of congressional legislation — one of those laws enacted after 9/11. The government passed the REAL ID Act in 2005.
The Act established specific minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards. REAL ID prohibits federal agencies from accepting those licenses and IDs from states that are not in compliance — more on that later. This legislation meant to eliminate potential airline terrorism by increasing the security requirements for documents that would give passengers access to airplanes.
What’s The Difference Between the Old & New TSA Compliant REAL IDs?
The new identification cards are being built with some newer, cutting-edge technology that will make them much harder to forge. Additionally, obtaining a state ID will require supplementary supporting documents that not all the states currently collect.
Why Are Many People Just Hearing About REAL ID Requirements Now?
It’s been a difficult and often contentious battle getting each of the fifty states into compliance with the new identification requirements. There have been delays and extensions since first enacted into law. In fact, it’s been nearly 15 years since the legislation passed and finally we are at a point where implementation in America’s airports is going to become a reality. All states must be in compliance by October 1, 2021. That’s why it’s important now to know what is going on.
How Can I Tell If My ID and My State Driver’s License Are TSA REAL ID Compliant?
Not All ID’s Are ‘REAL ID’ Compliant
Nearly all the states with issued compliant ID’s have a black or gold star on the front of the card — in the upper right hand corner with a few exceptions.
To complicate matters a bit, Hawaii, Tennessee and Utah are REAL ID compliant, but do not have the star identifier. You can check with your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if you’re not certain. State IDs not in compliance say “Not for Federal Identification” or “Federal Limits Apply.” You can check out the current list of compliant states on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.
If My State Is On That Compliant List, Then Is My ID Compliant?
Not necessarily. You may have acquired your license before it was compliant. In that case, you need to get a new and compliant ID. If your ID doesn’t have the gold or black star in the upper right corner (and it’s not from Hawaii, Tennessee or Utah,) you should visit your DMV and check to make sure your ID is compliant, or get a new ID.
If I Have TSA PreCheck Do I Need a REAL ID?
Yes, although TSA PreCheck is a great benefit to have, it will not prevent you from having to present a compliant ID to pass through a TSA security checkpoint and board a flight.
With the popularity of credit cards that include PreCheck, membership has increased overall.
If you want to get free TSA PreCheck, these credit cards include Global Entry and TSA PreCheck reimbursement, among other benefits:
What Happens If I Ignore This and Try to Fly With a Non-Compliant ID?
You won’t fly. Even if you have another state government issued ID, the TSA has made it quite clear that anyone who fails to present a REAL ID compliant ID will not be allowed to pass through a TSA checkpoint and board an airplane after October 1, 2021. In that case, you’ll need a passport or passport card to fly domestically.
It is up to you, the traveler, to know if your ID is compliant and to make efforts to ensure you have an acceptable ID for travel. Take steps now. You still have several months before the October 1, 2021 deadline to get the proper ID from your DMV.
Will There Be Any More Extensions?
Hey, we are talking about the US government, so anything’s possible. There have been a lot of delays and extensions as I mentioned.
But don’t count on any more as we are down to the ‘eleventh hour’ on full implementation of the REAL ID requirements. There are some real issues with getting some states to issue the REAL ID cards. For example, Alaska and California were granted an extension for the dates they must begin issuing the cards, but that does not change the TSA’s October 1, 2021 deadline for travel. If your state has been granted such an extension, you should check back often on when exactly they will issue the new ID’s.
Here is the latest extension information, provided by Department of Homeland Security
|Noncompliant Jurisdiction||2019 Extension Ends|
|California||Jan 10, 2019*|
|Massachusetts||Jan 10, 2019*|
|Guam||Jan 10, 2019*|
|Virginia||Jan 10, 2019*|
|Minnesota||Mar 01, 2019*|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||1-Apr-19|
|* indicates state is issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and IDs|
* indicates state is issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and IDs
What Should You Do Right Now?
If you do not have REAL ID compliant license, you should first check to see if your state is already compliant.
Here’s a graphic to help you see where your state might fall in the requirements, provided by the TSA (but this is subject to change)
Timeline of REAL ID TSA Air Travel Requirements
If your state is compliant, you should check to see if your ID is compliant. If not, make the effort to get yourself a new ID. You probably will have to produce a verified copy of your original birth certificate and proof of a valid Social Security number to meet your state’s identification requirements.
If your state is not compliant, then contact your DMV to find out when they expect to be compliant. You’ve got some time, but make a plan to get your compliant ID. Remember, the TSA will not be enforcing these new rules until October 1, 2021.
“Homeland Security established some guidelines for all 50 states to abide by,” Secretary of State Jesse White said in May. Here’s the TSA’s checklist to get a Real ID: https://realid.ilsos.gov/checklist.html.
In addition the Secretary of State’s website has more information on the Real ID.
Start Early, Beat the Rush to Get Your TSA REAL ID
My suggestion is to start the process of getting a new ID early. Even if you don’t fly often, or don’t plan to fly in the foreseeable future, I still suggest you get a compliant ID. You never know if something might come up that required you to travel. If that happened, you wouldn’t want to be ‘grounded’ because you didn’t have proper identification.
States are making the efforts to be federally compliant and they understand that every resident will eventually need one. They are making the effort to get this done in time. But don’t delay; the rush is sure to be ugly as October 2021 approaches. I am imagining throngs of people descending upon their local DMV offices at the last moment once they realize they will be denied by the TSA if they don’t have a REAL ID compliant license (or ID card.)
Some Additional Questions Answered
Do I Need a TSA Compliant ID To Vote?
No. The REAL ID requirements neither affect voter access nor voter registration processes.
What About International Travel?
REAL ID has no effect on the requirements for international travel. Every passenger still is required to have a valid passport for international travel. You will still need your passport to leave the country.
I know there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding the new TSA REAL ID air travel requirements. Please let me know in the comments section if you have any additional questions.
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