Can You Fly Without a Driver’s License or ID Card if They Were Lost or Stolen

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 fully understand what is required.

The reason why this policy exists is because — people lose their IDs or have them stolen. If someone lost or had their purse or wallet stolen while they’re on vacation, telling them that they can’t get home when they have no way to get an ID is hardly a productive outcome for either the TSA or the passenger.

If you must fly without ID you should take into consideration the following information. Plan on getting to the airport significantly earlier than you would normally, because the additional screening will take longer.  Additionally, know that you will not be able to check your bags at curbside with a skycap – you will have to go inside the airport to the check-in counter.

 Airports now mandate that all passengers over the age of 18 present a government-issued form of photo identification such as a military ID, driver’s license, or passport at 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, ands, 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 the following information listed on the TSA website to give you an idea what their official comment is about this subject:

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.

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

Anti-theft Document Organizer

Anti-theft Document Organizer

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 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.

Here’s Some Advice to Get 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 lost)
3.  Keep some information on line which 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 prior to 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 identify. 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.

Taupe Anti-theft Travel Purse

Wallet Attaches to Anti-theft Purse with Pickpocket Proof Zipper









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, other than you, no one knows who you are so expect to be delayed while the TSA addresses this security issue.


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