Update on the Real ID Act

September 30, 2016 Mark Dauner

The Real ID Act became quite a topic of discussion for travelers last year as several states struggled to meet compliance standards and travelers weren't sure whether or not they'd need a passport to board a domestic flight, and we understandably continue to see questions and requests for updates on this topic. Nobody wants to get to the airport only to find out that their state-issued ID won't get them on their flight!

As we reported in January, the Department of Homeland Security has clarified the timeline with which travelers must present a Real ID compliant license to board US domestic flights: 

July 15, 2016: the TSA, in coordination with airlines and airport stakeholders, will begin to issue web-based advisories and notifications to the traveling public.

December 15, 2016: the TSA will expand outreach at its airport checkpoints through signage, handouts, and other methods.

January, 2018: passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight. Passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that is compliant with REAL ID (or a state that has been issued an extension) will still be able to use their driver’s licenses or identification cards.

October 1, 2020: every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.

The chart below from the Department of Homeland Security illustrates the timeline: 


Some of the states previously listed as noncompliant have begun to take measures to meet Real ID requirements. Louisiana, for instance, has taken steps to implement Real ID compliant drivers licenses which residents will have the option of getting if they choose. Minnesota will offer a similar option by 2018. The DHS' Real ID page shows every state and their current level of compliance. Keep in mind, however, as shown in the chart above, that everybody will be ok through at least January 22, 2018.

Travel and Transport will continue to monitor this and will update you as new developments arise. For more information, visit our original article from January, Real ID Act: Separating Fact from Fiction, and The Real ID program and what it means for travelers from 2015.

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