Will the TSA accept my drivers license at airport security in order to travel?
It has been widely publicized by the Department of Homeland Security that the TSA will not be accepting certain drivers licenses as valid I.D. in order to board DOMESTIC FLIGHTS starting January 10, 2016. This is true.
However, there has been an update/extension to allow certain states to comply. (See what the Department of Homeland Security says here.)
Certain states have resisted or have not implemented REAL ID into their drivers licenses as of 2016. Those states include Alaska, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington state, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Extensions to Real ID requirements that allowed non REAL ID drivers licenses to still be used as identification were to expire on January 10, 2016, following the original recommendation of the 9/11 Commission passed by Congress in 2005. These states would require a valid passport or secondary identification for licenses issued by these U.S. states in order to board planes or even be granted access to terminal gates.
What is REAL ID? REAL ID drivers licenses have a small gold star in the top right hand corner and a magnetic strip (barcode) on the back that contains information regarding the owner of that identification card and prevents tampering. The Act by Congress imposes much stricter measures on how people can obtain a driver’s license, and sets more thorough standards as to what is displayed on them.
Why Driver’s Licenses? In the United States, driver’s licenses are issued by the states, not by the federal government. So because the United States has no national identification card (and because of the widespread use of cars), driver’s licenses have been used as a de facto standard form of identification within the country.
States without REAL ID:
The DHS already denied further extensions for Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington state, and had said they will not extend deadlines for other states. However, on January 8, 2016, the DHS said travelers could keep using their current licenses for two more years. Story continues after images showing the REAL ID gold star in the corner.
States have until January 22, 2018 to issue licenses that comply with REAL ID, and all travelers will need a Real ID-compliant license (or passport) to fly.
Bottom line up front: Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that does not meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act (unless that state has been granted an extension to comply with the Act) must present an alternative form of identification acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in order to board a commercial domestic flight. Over the next two years, those states that are not REAL ID compliant are strongly encouraged to meet the requirements of the law for the benefit of their residents. – Statement By Secretary Jeh C. Johnson On The Final Phase Of REAL ID Act Implementation
The Department of Homeland Security has released a clickable map to quickly and easily check if your state is compliant. (See http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-enforcement-brief) and answered a series of frequently asked questions about REAL ID. (See http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs) Story continues after photo >>
OUR TSA TRAVEL I.D. RECOMMENDATIONS:
Important: Right now, no individual needs to adjust travel plans, or rush out to get a new driver’s license or a passport for domestic air travel. Until January 22, 2018, residents of all states will still be able to use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel. Passengers can also continue to use any of the various other forms of identification accepted by TSA (such as a Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry card, U.S. military ID, airline or airport-issued ID, federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID).
NOTE: The TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. However any travel companions will need acceptable identification.
We recommend you update your drivers license if you have not done so in some time or live in a state that allows long expiration dates on licenses without requiring you go in and update it.
We also strongly recommend travelers consider either TSA Pre-check or Global Entry (with a preference for Global Entry if you plan to travel internationally.) Either will also speed your way through airports and make travel more hassle-free.
The TSA has published a list of acceptable forms of I.D. and secondary I.D. here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification. They have also answered a number of Frequently Asked Questions regarding travel and required identification at the airport here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/frequently-asked-questions.
We also strongly recommend, along with the U.S. State Department, that you check your insurance coverage before any flights for coverage at your destination/out-of-network, and purchase international travel insurance to cover emergency evacuation and any costs you may incur that your domestic insurance will not protect you for. Emergency care and transportation from another country is expensive and can typically cost anywhere from $12,000-$100,000 depending on your location and need.
Another tip comes by way of Sarus Global and their online travel safety course: Make sure you check the expiration date on your passport before any travel overseas. Some nations, even if you transit through or switch planes there, require you to have at least six months worth of time left on your passport (before expiration) beyond your anticipated return date to the USA. – Thanks to Sarus Global for the tip!
You can read more about REAL ID here, including the original Act of Congress: