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October 25, 2017

Travel and REAL ID: What You Need to Know Ahead of 2018

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The “initial enforcement” deadline for REAL ID compliance is fast approaching. Here’s what travelers from every state need to know before they board a flight next year. “Will I be able to use my driver’s license to board a plane next year?”

That’s a question on many American travelers’ minds as the end of 2017 approaches—along with the “initial enforcement” deadline for states to issue driver’s licenses and ID cards that meet the requirements laid out by the REAL ID Act of 2005.

REAL ID refers to a set of security standards established by Congress in 2005 for card issuance, card design and application processing that states must follow when issuing driver’s licenses and other forms of identification. The law mandates that any American citizen must show REAL ID-compliant identification when boarding a domestic flight, accessing federal facilities or entering a nuclear power plant.

However, not all state-issued IDs follow those standards yet.

Here are the states that currently issue REAL ID-compliant ID cards.

Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Maryland
Mississippi
Nebraska
Nevada
New Mexico
North Carolina
Ohio
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

If you live in a compliant state, and your state-issued ID card has a black or gold star on it—or indicates in any other way that it is REAL-ID compliant—you can use it to board a domestic flight going forward. If not, you must go through your state’s DMV to ensure that the ID in your wallet reflects REAL ID standards as soon as possible.

If you do not live in one of these states, read on.

Early last year, DHS extended the deadline for REAL ID compliance. Even with this extension, a number of states do not currently comply with REAL ID standards, for a variety of reasons. Congress has granted extensions to the following states until October 10, 2018, meaning their residents can continue to use their driver’s license to board a plane until then.

As of this writing, those states are:

Alaska
California
Idaho
Kentucky
Maine
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Montana
New Hampshire
New Jersey
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Virginia
Washington

Meanwhile, the federal government is still reviewing extension requests for six states and five U.S. territories. If those extensions are not granted, residents of the following states and territories will not be able to fly domestically with their driver’s licenses starting January 22, 2018:

American Samoa
Guam
Illinois
Louisiana
Michigan
Missouri
New York
The Northern Mariana Islands
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
The U.S. Virgin Islands

If states do not comply and Congress declines to issue another extension, TSA and DHS have no alternative under current law but to reject non-REAL ID-compliant IDs.

Unfortunately, most states face significant hurdles, notably limited budgets, when it comes to REAL ID compliance. If you live in one of the non-compliant states or territories, under extension or not, we encourage you to contact your state representatives, and urge them to put pressure your state’s Division of Motor Vehicles. Doing so may help speed up the process of REAL ID compliance -- and ensure that you can board your domestic flights with your state-issued ID going forward.


Copyright 2017 U.S. Travel Association. All rights reserved. From https://www.ustravel.org.
By Lorraine Howerton, Senior Director of Government Relations, U.S. Travel Association.
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