Make Sure Your Driver’s License Can Get You Through Airport Security in 2020
The REAL ID act is scheduled to fully go into effect until October 1, 2020. That means that, depending on the state you live in, next year your driver’s license may no longer be acceptable identification for getting through airport security.
When REAL ID was passed, it was controversial—some people objected that it could amount to an unconstitutional national ID card, and states argued that it would be expensive to overhaul their license and ID procedures.
The law can’t force states to change how they issue driver’s licenses, but it says IDs will only be acceptable at certain federal facilities (including TSA checkpoints) if they meet certain requirements, which include asking people to provide certain documentation when they apply for a license, and technological requirements for the licenses themselves to make them harder to forge.
Originally the regulations were supposed to go into effect in 2008, but some states refused (Pennsylvania, for example, passed a “REAL ID noncompliance act”) and others just took a while to get around to it. The federal government kept extending the deadline, although now it’s promising that October 1, 2020, is the real deadline this time. As of today, 45 states are currently producing compliant IDs, and the other five have temporary extensions.
States shown in green below are currently compliant, but that’s not a guarantee that your license will pass muster after the deadline:
States shown in yellow have an extension: their licenses don’t meet the REAL ID requirements, but the government says that’s fine, for now. Those states include Kentucky, Maine, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
Find out whether your license is a REAL ID
Even if your state is compliant, the ID in your pocket may not be good enough to get through security after the deadline. For example, if your state started issuing REAL IDs last year, but your ID was issued two years ago, your ID may not count as compliant.
Some states have also chosen to issue compliant and non-compliant IDs: for example, if a state issues driver’s licenses to non-citizens, those licenses don’t meet REAL ID requirements.
Check with your state’s DMV about how to find out whether your ID is compliant. Some states have a star in the corner of compliant IDs, or a notice like “federal limits apply” on non-compliant ones.
How to fly without a REAL ID
If your state’s extension runs out, or if your state issues both compliant and non-compliant cards and you don’t have a compliant one, you won’t be able to get through security using that ID starting October 1, 2020.
You’re not stuck, though—TSA accepts other forms of identification besides just driver’s licenses and state IDs. Your passport will work just fine, and so will a passport card, a global entry card, a permanent resident card, a tribal identification card, and many more. Children under 18 do not need their own ID when flying with an adult.