Is your state-issued driver’s license or ID card acceptable for domestic air travel in compliance with the REAL ID Act?

Practice Areas

By: Melissa Chan

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 to establish the minimum-security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies, like TSA, from accepting licenses and identification cards for official purposes from states that do not meet these standards.

Effective, January 22, 2018, your state-issued driver’s license or ID card must have complied with the REAL ID Act (“Act”) or your state must have received an extension to bring its documentation into compliance with the Act in order for you to use it as an identification document for domestic air travel.  If your state is not in compliance with the Act, then you must present alternative form of identification, i.e, valid passport or other acceptable documentation to fly within the US.

 Effective, October 1, 2020, each domestic air traveler must present a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or state ID or another acceptable form of identification to fly within the U.S.

US DHS -Transportation Security Administration’s Recommendations:

  1. Check your state’s status:
  • You can check if your state is REAL ID compliant at gov/real-id-enforcement-brief.
  • Beginning January 22, 2018, travelers from non-compliant states will not be able to use their driver’s licenses or state IDs at TSA checkpoints, unless the state received an extension to comply.
  1. Read the frequently asked questions:
  • For clarification on what the REAL ID Act means for you, visit gov/real-id-public-faqs or tsa.gov and search “REAL ID”. If you have questions about what is considered acceptable identification, you may call the TSA Contact Center at (866) 289-9673 or email TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov.
  1. Prepare for the checkpoint:
  • If you are concerned that your state-issued driver’s license or photo ID may not be accepted by TSA beginning January 22, 2018, apply for an alternative identification document well ahead of your planned travel dates.
  • Ensure you have an acceptable ID and boarding pass ready before arriving at the airport. Refer to the current list of acceptable IDs below or at gov/travel/security-screening/identification:
    • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent) in accordance with REAL ID enforcement schedule described above.
    • S. passport
    • S. passport card
    • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
    • S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
    • S. Merchant Mariner Credential
    • Permanent resident card
    • Border crossing card
    • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
    • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
    • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
    • HSPD-12 PIV card
    • Foreign government-issued passport
    • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
    • Transportation worker identification credential
    • Immigration and Naturalization Service Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
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