Residents of Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York may soon need to show a valid passport in order to board a domestic flight. The Department of Homeland Security has clarified that these four states, along with American Samoa, have not brought their driver’s licenses into compliance with the identification requirements of the REAL ID Act. When the new rules go into effect in 2016, residents of these four states will no longer be able to use their driver’s licenses as identification at the TSA security checkpoints at the airport.
Travelers who live in Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York are being urged to apply for a passport or secure another form of REAL ID-compliant identification now. In addition to passport books, other forms of accepted ID include passport cards, Trusted Traveler program cards, and military IDs, as well as the Enhanced Driver’s Licenses issued by New York or Minnesota. For most travelers, applying for a passport book is the best idea, as it can be used for all international travel as well as domestic identification.
Residents of the other 46 states, the District of Columbia, and other US territories will be able to continue to use their driver’s licenses for domestic air travel so long as they have the newer REAL ID-compliant licenses. You can check to see if your license is a REAL ID by looking for a star at the top of the card. If it does not have a star, or a circle with a star cut-out, you will need to either obtain a new driver’s license or travel with a valid passport.
The Department of Homeland Security has not yet announced exactly when next year the new identification requirements will begin to be enforced, but they will have a three month grace period to allow travelers to obtain passports or other appropriate identification.
Children under age 18 will not need to show identification if they are traveling with a parent or guardian. However, many families find that they pass through TSA security faster and more easily if their children do have identification of their own, so we recommend passport cards as a convenient, wallet-sized form of REAL ID for children as well as adults.