Real ID Act goes into effect for travelers January 22, 2018

March 14, 2017 Mark Dauner

If you have gone through airport security recently, you’ve probably seen these signs posted:

Phase 4 of the Real ID act goes into full effect on January 22, 2018, requiring that travelers present a Real ID compliant form of identification when boarding domestic flights. At this point, the majority of state IDs and drivers licenses are compliant or have received extensions from the federal government. If your ID is from those states then you'll have nothing to worry about in January. There are some states, however, that are not yet compliant. If your state is on that list, you might want to start thinking about getting a passport or another form of Real ID compliant identification now.

Here’s the timeline:  

January 22, 2018

Residents of these states must have a valid passport or other form of Real ID compliant identification to board a domestic flight unless their state becomes compliant and issues new IDs first:

  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Washington

October 1, 2020

Residents of ALL US states and territories - whether they've received an extension or not - will be required to have a Real ID-compliant license.

This information changes often, so please refer to the Department of Homeland Security’s Real ID Enforcement page for the most up-to-date information on state compliance.  

What is the Real ID Act?

You may or may not have heard of the Real ID Act. Congress passed it back in 2005 per the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and this is what the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tells us it’s all about:

  • It “establishes minimum standards for the production and issuance of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and authorizes grants to assist states in implementing the requirements.”
  • It “prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official uses driver’s licenses and identity cards from states unless the Department of Homeland Security determines that the state meets the standards. Official uses are defined as accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding federally-regulated commercial aircraft.”

Many of the initial phases, which require Real ID approved identification to access secured federal facilities and military bases, have already gone into effect. The final phase of this initiative, phase 4, is underway now. It says that “a driver’s license or identification card from a noncompliant state may only be used in conjunction with a second compliant form of ID for boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.” 

Additional Resources

Here are some additional links with more information on the Real ID Act and how it will be enforced:

DHS: Real ID Enforcement in brief

DHS: REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions for the public

DHS: Real ID and you; Rumor Control

TSA: Real ID Fact Sheet

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