Contrary to popular belief, passengers 18 years of age or older are not automatically denied boarding if they cannot provide proper identification – they may still fly on domestic flights in the US, provided that they go through additional identity and security screening at the security checkpoint. This policy is specifically noted on the TSA’s website, at the page linked below. So the answer is yes, you can fly without a driver’s license or ID if they were lost or stolen, but read on to understand fully what is required.
The reason this policy exists is because it is hardly a productive outcome for either the TSA or you if they forbid you to fly without an ID, particularly if it was lost or stolen while you were on vacation and you had no way of getting a replacement until you are home.
If you must fly without ID, you should do the following
1. Plan on getting to the airport significantly earlier than you would normally because the additional screening will take longer.
2. If checking luggage you must do so inside the airport at the check-in counter, a skycap won’t be able to help you curbside.
Airports now mandate that all passengers over the age of 18 present a government-issued form of photo identification at check-in
Acceptable forms of ID are military ID, driver’s license, or a passport at the time of check-in. It’s best to call your airline and speak to a customer-service representative about its specific policies. Keep in mind that some carriers may be more lenient than others for domestic travel (however, international travel may necessitate additional forms of identification and immigration documents, such as a passport). Some airlines including Southwest Airlines and United insist that all passengers must present a government or state-issued photo ID at check-in–no ifs, and’s, or buts. But other carriers are a bit more flexible.
If you’re 17 or younger, no problem… you don’t need ID to travel.
The TSA has a dedicated page regarding what type of identification, as well as alternate forms of ID can be used at TSA checkpoints that every traveler should take the time to read, just in case you have an issue where you may need to travel without a driver’s licence or State ID card. Here is the TSA webpage – What types of ID can be used at TSA checkpoints. Of interesting note, look at the last paragraph on that page which talks about using other forms of ID at TSA checkpoints.
Another “official” government document to read up on about using other forms of ID at TSA checkpoints can be found by reading a 2013 TSA blog post about this subject called “TSA Travel Tips Tuesday — Can You Fly Without an ID?” Now obviously, by using non-governmental ID at TSA checkpoints will probably cause “extra screening,” but that would be expected.
Q. Can I Fly Without ID?
A. Adult passengers, 18 and over, are required to show a valid U.S. Federal or State-issued photo ID that contains a name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature. A passenger that refuses to provide any ID and will not cooperate in the identity verification process will not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint. If you lose your primary ID, or it has expired, the TSA may accept other forms of ID to help verify your identity. As outlined above, and by visiting the TSA webpage and blog above, you can see that all is not lost when trying to fly without a government ID. This is confirmed even more by when you read this CBS report and related video on the subject.
Lastly, here is a partial list of items some travelers have used to get thru TSA screening in those awkward times when you have lost your ID:
- Utility bills
- Library card (as a TSA spokesperson is quoted as saying)
- Costco memberships
- Work security badges
- Smart photos of IDs
- Police reports of a lost/stolen wallet or passport
- Student IDs
- Business cards with photos
- Magazines (containing a home address)
- Marriage licenses
- The color of your house, so long as you have Google Maps accessible.
Again, as previously stated, expect extra screening and scrutiny when you’re in a jam and try to use any of these document as a last ditch effort, and TSA can always deny airport entry with any of these documents. But in the end, TSA agents are people too. They understand that life happens and people lose their wallets, have wallets stolen, or simply just leave them at home when leaving for the airport.
Q. If I Lose My ID During Travel, What Secondary Forms of ID Will be Accepted?
A. Passengers who do not have a valid photo ID, such as state-issued driver’s license, should bring any ID or documents they have available to assist in verification of identity. Passengers need at least two alternate forms of identification, such as a social security card, birth certificate, marriage license, or credit card. The documents must bear the name of the passenger. Also, one of these documents must bear identification information containing one of the following: date of birth, gender, address, or photo. If TSA can confirm the passenger’s identity, they may enter the secured area, but they could be subject to additional screening. For more information, please review the TSA ID Requirements for Airport Checkpoints.
So if you are victim of crime and lose your identification, go immediately to the local law
enforcement station and file a report. Most of the time, you will be allowed to travel if you have gone to your local police or sheriff station and made a report. Bring a copy of the report with you to the airport to show both airport and TSA check-in personnel. Possession of a police report will help prove your case why you do not have possession of valid identification. However, even if you don’t have one, the Transportation Security Administration can verify your identity other ways besides a driver’s license. If possible, try to obtain an old expired identification card, or some other type of identification card that has your picture on it and may be verified. Remember, government issued IDs that are expired are not valid, but may help identify you in this unique situation.
How to Access to Your Identification in Case it is Lost or Stolen
1. Have ID numbers and photos of ID’s and anything else of value in your wallet like credit cards available. 2. You can travel with copies (as long as those don’t get lost) 3. Keep some information on-line where you can retrieve it, or call a family member who can email or fax copies to you in the event of an emergency.
Here’s Another Consideration
Print out your airline boarding passes from home or the hotel kiosk before arriving at the airport, in case you can’t do it at the airport. While you wouldn’t be able to use them ultimately, they may be somewhat helpful to prove your identity. Use an anti-theft document organizer, (click here to learn more) to minimize losing or theft of your valuables in the first place. We like travel wallets which attach to your clothing, or hidden waist wallets to keep ID’s money and credit cards close.
At the Airport
Tell the TSA screening agent that you do not have your ID because it was lost or stolen and provide them a copy of the police report (always keep a back-up copy in case one is lost or not given back to you). Typically, once this happens TSA personnel will alert other authorities of your “special issue” of being a security risk and assign personnel to address the issue. Obviously, expect additional security checks, searches, and scrutiny, to ensure the safety of others traveling. Remember, no one knows who you are, so expect to be delayed while the TSA addresses the security issue.