As a result of laws enacted by Congress in 2005, passengers traveling on January 22 and beyond will need a ‘compliant’ driver’s license in order to clear security at airports in most US states.

The ‘Real ID Act’ requires enhanced identification to be put in place by January 22, 2018.   This basically meant that your basic driver’s licenses needed to be updated with either barcode or ‘RFID’ technology that would contain more information than what is printed on the license.   28 States and  several US territories are currently compliant to the new standard, while 22 states received extensions to implement the changeover.

For residents traveling from states that have already enacted the ‘compliant’ licenses, they’ll have to provide the enhanced ID when clearing security, otherwise they run the risk of not be allowed through security.    For residents in states that have been granted extensions to implementing the new ID program, you can continue traveling on your current ID.  However, it may be wise to carry another official ID such as a passport or Global Entry card as a backup piece of ID.

The map below shows which states are already part of the Real ID program and which states are operating under an extension.   States shaded in Green are already compliant, while the yellow states are those with extensions.

 

Map courtesy of CNBC.com

 

 

So for example, if you are a Texas resident, you need to use your ‘Real ID’ license on January 22, otherwise you will need to show additional ID (Passport, Global Entry Card, etc) if you wish to clear security.    According to the TSA, if a resident of a ‘Real ID’ state shows up at security without the right ID and the TSA can’t prove the identity at screening, the passenger can be prevented from traveling.

Another example…..  If you are a Michigan resident (a state under extension), you can still use your normal driver’s license at security.   According to the TSA, if you are a resident of a state that is currently under extension, and are traveling from a state already in compliance you should be OK to use your Michigan license (i.e. Michigan resident flying from Texas).   But if we know anything, it’s that the TSA rules can be interpreted differently by each ‘officer’, so it might make sense that if you are in a state that is under extension to take along your Passport or Global Entry card as a back-up piece of ID.

Regardless of the changes coming on January 22, it will be required of all residents of all states to have a ‘Real ID’ Driver’s License by October 1, 2020.    At that point only Real ID Licenses will be acceptable, otherwise you’ll need to provide another valid ID, such as a passport or other officially recognized piece of identification.

The TSA expects this to go smoothly.

Where have we heard that before! 🙂