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BLOG: Real ID Act is Coming… Are You Ready?

traveler programs

We are about 18 months away from the anticipated enforcement of the Real ID Act. In 2005 Congress opted to implement recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission. Real ID refers to the application of a set of standards for the issuance of various sources of identification, drivers licenses being one form of identification. Different identification purposes reviewed in the Act are federal facility and nuclear power plant access along with federally regulated commercial aircraft.

The government announced a phased approach in 2013 and since then, states have been working toward compliance to the new standards which are set to take full effect in October 1, 2020. Obviously the biggest impact for most of the public will be towards commercial flying so we will continue to focus on that topic in the remainder of this article.

One thing to note, some states issue what’s called an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) – Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington. While these types of licenses are not the same as a Real ID license, they will be an acceptable form of identification to board an airplane.

Individuals may opt to still receive a standard license but will then have to provide a different, compliant form of identification such as a valid passport.

Could you be denied boarding now without a Real ID?

Beginning in January of 2018, passengers from states that were not compliant or had not received an extension, could have been denied boarding however, at the time of this article, all states and territories are either compliant or have an extension, so no worries there.

Is your state compliant?

At the beginning of this year, most states were in compliance, however, there are a few that are still working toward compliance and are currently under and extension. Those states are: Alaska, Oregon, Montana, California, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands. The extension date for each varies.

How do you know if your current driver’s license is Real ID compliant?

If you’ve received a new drivers license in the past couple of years, you likely are compliant. Real ID drivers licenses have a star in the top right corner.

Do you need to get a Real ID before your current drivers license expires?

If your drivers license is due to expire prior to October 1, 2020, then you can wait until your renewal time and then obtain a compliant ID at time. If your license isn’t set to expire until on or after October 1, 2020, and you plan to fly commercially, you will need to visit your local DMV office to get your compliant ID.

Can I renew my license online and receive a compliant ID? 

Because Real ID identification is more enhanced than a standard license, you will not be able to renew online and receive your license in the mail. You will need to physically go to your local DMV and provide all required documentation before being issued a Real ID drivers license.

What do you need to take with you to obtain a Real ID drivers license?

You will want to check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles page to verify all necessary documentation, however, it’s likely you will need to provide documents that prove your identity and date of birth, social security number, state residence and residential address. These documents may include but are not limited to; a valid passport or certified copy of your birth certificate, social security card or W-2 form, a state voter registration card, utility bill, or credit card statement. There are numerous options available to individuals to fulfill each state’s requirements, so before heading to the DMV, make sure you do your homework.

Do you need to have a Real ID for your minor child?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not require children under the age of 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. Therefore, you do not need to obtain a Real ID to fly commercially. A word of warning, some airlines may require you to provide proof of age to ensure the child is, in fact, a minor. Adults and minors will still need a valid passport to fly internationally.