REAL OR NOT REAL?
It’s travel time again! You’re all packed up and ready to go. You arrived at the airport early, with plenty of time for lines or unexpected delays. You checked in and have your boarding pass. But when you get to the TSA Security Checkpoint, suddenly, they are Gandalf, and you the Balrog: you aren’t allowed to pass.
What went wrong?
Looking down, you dejectedly realize that your ID is not REAL ID compliant. Oops. So how do you fix it? And what is REAL ID anyway?
A Bit of Background:
The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. The main purpose was to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses,” with the goal being to strengthen security standards for identification cards. The ensuing regulations are designed to require states to meet these standards as well as prohibit federal agencies from accepting identification cards from states who do not. The most common form of ID this affects is state-issued driver’s licenses.
The Deadline Extended:
In April 2021, the Department of Homeland Security extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
“Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel.”
What Does That Mean for Me?
If you don’t like to travel, probably nothing. However, if you want to fly through TSA, then you might want to double check that your main form of ID is in compliance. Likely, this will be a state-issued driver’s license or other state-issued photo identity card. (A complete list of acceptable forms of identification for TSA can be found here on their website: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification)
For many state-issued driver’s licenses, the REAL ID compliance is marked with a star at the top of the card. Some states issue state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, which are marked with a flag. Both are acceptable forms of identification. If your driver’s license is not REAL ID compliant, or you do not have a driver’s license, you will need another form of acceptable identification from the list above. (Note: when traveling within the United States, children under the age of 18 do not need to provide identification if traveling with a companion. However, the companion will need to provide identification from the list above.)
To obtain a REAL ID-compliant license, check your state’s DMV website for the list of documents you will need to bring. These documents typically include proof of citizenship or residency, your social security card, and documents showing your principal residence. Again, check with your state for the exact list of required documents; you want to ensure you have everything you need so you receive your REAL ID-compliant license before the May 3, 2023, deadline.
Once you have your REAL ID-compliant license or other acceptable form of identification, you can sail through TSA and not have to worry about being turned away again (unless you pack a flame thrower…don’t do that.) Just remember: the deadline has been extended to May 3, 2023. Don’t miss it!