REAL ID has been in the news lately, but here at PassportInfo.com, we’ve been talking about REAL ID since our site launched in 2015. It’s an important issue for all travelers in the US. The REAL ID Act is the law that sets Federal standards for the issuance of state ID cards like driver’s licenses. Once the act is fully implemented, you won’t be able to get on a plane unless you have the right kind of ID!
Today, we’ll bring you the very latest updates on REAL ID, and will answer your frequently asked questions.
What is the REAL ID Act all about?
In the wake of the terrible terrorist attacks of 2001, the government’s 9/11 Commission was tasked with finding ways to improve airport security. One of the items they focused on was identification. Most of us use a driver’s license or other state-issued ID when we check in for a domestic flight. The only problem was that every state had their own requirements for issuing identification cards.
The REAL ID Act of 2005 was meant to fix that gap. The law created Federal standards for the issuance of driver’s licenses and other IDs. About half of all US states have now adopted these new ID standards.
When the law goes in to effect fully, you will need to show an identification that is certified as REAL ID anytime you board a flight in the US. You’ll also need this type of ID to enter Federal facilities, military bases, and nuclear power plants.
What’s the latest news on REAL ID?
Over the last 12 years, the US government has pushed back the implementation date of the new ID requirements again and again. The Department of Homeland Security has changed the deadline several times, trying to give all the states time to revamp the way they issue driver’s licenses. But it seems that some states are in no hurry to comply with the ID rules!
The most recent REAL ID deadline came and went on October 10, 2017. On that date, all Americans were expected to have a REAL ID-compliant ID card or passport in order to board a flight, enter a Federal facility, or visit a nuclear power plant or military base. That didn’t happen, though. Roughly half of all US states and territories still weren’t issuing REAL ID cards by October 10. Rather than have millions of travelers turned away from their flights, the government pushed out the deadline again. Non-compliant states have been given a grace period until January 22, 2018. Until then, residents of those states can keep using their driver’s licenses to fly within the US.
This doesn’t mean that all of the non-compliant states will need to start issuing REAL ID driver’s licenses by mid-January, though. Every single state has applied for an extension to the deadline! As of the time of this writing (December 11, 2017), almost all of the non-compliant states have been given an extension. Only Louisiana, Michigan, New York, and American Samoa are still waiting to have their extensions granted. If you live in a state with an extension, you can keep using your current driver’s license to fly until October 10, 2018.
Will you need a passport to fly domestically next year?
From now until January 22, 2018, everyone can keep using their normal driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards to check in for flights. It doesn’t matter if your license is a REAL ID or not.
From January 22 to October 10, 2018, you’ll be able to fly using either a REAL ID driver’s license or a driver’s license from any non-compliant state with an extension. We’re betting that by January 22, every state and territory will have been granted an extension.
After October 10, 2018, you will need to use a passport book, passport card, Trusted Traveler card, or military ID card if you don’t have a REAL ID license. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if the deadline gets pushed out again!