The Real ID Act is causing a bit of confusion for travelers in the U.S. If you’re like many people, you’ve never even heard of the Real ID Act and have no idea what this is all about. Especially if you life in a state that is already compliant.
What is the Real ID Act?
In simple terms, the U.S. Government has set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. This is a big deal since the vast majority of domestic airline travelers in the U.S use their drivers license as ID for airport checkin. Many states are already in compliance with the Real ID Act, so if you live in one of those…you’re golden! For those of you that live in a state that is not yet compliant, there are things that you need to know.
What Do I Need To Know About the Real ID Act?
The Real ID Act states that beginning in January 2018, states must be in compliance with Real ID or, if the government deems them far enough along in working towards compliance, they have granted them an extension until October of 2020.
Currently, states fall into one of 3 categories –
- Already compliant
- Granted an extension – essentially, they’re “working on getting compliant”
- Non compliant and have been granted no extension
If you live in #1, you’re good to go domestically via air travel with your driver’s license.
If you live in #2, your state has been granted an extension. You can still use your driver’s license for domestic U.S. air travel after January 1, 2018. Your state has until October of 2020 to complete their compliance requirements. On October 1, 2020 either your state will be compliant and you can continue to use your drivers license, or they will be deemed non-compliant and you will no longer be able to use it.
If you live in #3, sorry. Starting January 1, 2018 you will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification.
By October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.
Here’s the Q & A page from Homeland Security in case you have any additional questions.