Will Your ID be Valid for Your Next Flight?

BY Travel Writer

The Mandatory Deadline for Presenting a REAL ID-compliant license to TSA is now October 1st, 2021.

The Real ID ACT – It Affects How You Board a Plane Come October 1st, 2021

Will the TSA accept your current driver’s license as ID? If you haven’t traveled in a while checking on your driver’s license now is timely. If you have to get a Real ID start working on it now as due to the pandemic many state DMV’s are backed up on processing requests.

What is the Real ID and Real ID Act

The Real ID Act is legislation that imposes much stricter measures on how people can obtain a state’s driver’s license and sets more thorough standards as to what will be displayed on the licenses. States have had to increase their standards to meet the federal standards for driver’s licenses to be considered REAL IDs. Why is this important to you and domestic travel? Because you need a federally approved driver’s license or similar ID to board a plane on or after October 1st, 2021.

If your driver’s license is not a Real ID on October 1st, 2021, then here’s a workaround, assuming you have a passport you can use your passport as your ID to fly domestically since passports are federally issued documents.

The Purpose of the Real ID

The purpose of secure driver’s licenses and identification documents is a vital component of our national security framework. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, 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.”  This Act ensures that a driver’s license issued by all states meets all the same new higher standards of identity verification as set forth by the federal government.

Getting a Compliant Real ID Now is Easy

All states are now issuing driver’s licenses and IDs that are compliant with the federal regulations of the Real ID Act. Therefore, any new license or requested replacement license is a Real ID.
 You need to have a new federally compliant driver’s license known as a Real ID issued to you by your state to use as ID to get through TSA and board a plane as of October 1st, 2021. Until October 1st, your old license or ID is still valid.
The REAL ID Act sets forth new federally mandated requirements for all state driver’s licenses and ID cards. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set standards not entirely dissimilar from the requirements already in place for most states throughout the country, however, not all states are/were compliant. 
The bottom line is…Driver’s licenses and IDs must now meet the Act’s minimum standards when they are produced by the states. You will have to prove who you are and where you reside to get a Real ID driver’s license.  Your DMV will provide you what documents you need to bring when applying for the newer ID. The higher standards mean your license will be tamper-proofed and signifies that your identification has been verified and approved by the TSA. The TSA will accept your driver’s license as an ID for domestic flights if it is a Real ID, meaning it meeting the federal standards for driver’s licenses.
 Related Article:  Can You Fly if Your ID is lost?

Want More Details is From the Department of Homeland Security

Please continue to check DHS’s REAL ID webpage for the most up-to-date information on individual state compliance as status can change over time. You can find a list of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration on TSA’s website.  You may also check with your state’s driver’s licensing agency about how to acquire a REAL ID-compliant license.

Rumor: I need a passport to fly domestically

  • If you have a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that does not meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act,  and unless that state has been granted an extension, you must present an alternative form of identification acceptable to TSA in order to board a commercial domestic flight.
  • Starting October 1, 2021, you will need a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of federal identification such as a passport for domestic air travel.

Rumor: TSA isn’t going to accept my driver’s license 

Fact: TSA will continue to accept driver’s licenses issued by all compliant states or non-compliant states with an extension, until September 30th, 2021.

Rumor: I need to get a new driver’s license or passport

Fact: You have until October 2021 to replace your current license with a REAL ID-compliant license, as long as your state is compliant or is non-compliant with an extension. Start the application process with your DMV now, as appointments and wait times at the agency can be a few months out depending on where you live.

Rumor: The Department of Homeland Security is trying to build a national database with all of our information

Fact: REAL ID does not build a national database nor does it grant the Federal Government or another state access to a state’s driver’s license data.  REAL ID is not a national identification card. States and territories will continue to issue their own unique license, maintain their own records, and determine who may access those records and under what circumstances.

Will the TSA accept your driver’s license as ID

The TSA, a federal agency, has given several years notice that they will refuse to let passengers with non-compliant IDs board flights as of October 1st, 2021. The TSA will accept your driver’s license as ID if it is a Real ID. If your driver’s license is non-compliant because it is not a REAL ID the TSA can ask you to provide another form of identification, like a passport, and if you don’t have it deny you access to the plane.

Check your license now if you’re not sure and check the expiration date of your passport while you’re at it. Protect your ID, passport, and other valuable documents in the airport by carrying them in a flat pouch you wear around your neck and under your shirt for easy access and security.

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