Air Travelers: Get Ready for Real ID October 2020

Newsflash: If you travel by air, beginning October 1, 2020, you will need a Real ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of ID, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of TSA and Travel Weekly.

What is Real ID?

Real ID is the new federal requirement for state-issued driver licenses and non-driver IDs to help prevent fraudulent identification. You are not required to get a REAL ID. However, starting October 1, 2020, if you typically use your driver license or non-driver ID (instead of a passport or other form of ID) to fly within the U.S. you probably want a REAL ID. Otherwise you will need to use a valid U.S. passport or another federally approved form of identification. A standard state driver’s license can still be used for driving.

The Real ID Act passed in 2005 (in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks) that set new and higher minimum-security standards for the driver’s licenses and identification cards that will be accepted at airports, other federally regulated facilities and nuclear power plants.

State-issued Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards meet increased security standards established by the Real ID Act of 2005. The law establishes what data states must have before issuing a license. It also lays out what technology must be encoded in the IDs and what data must be printed on the IDs.

There has been some debate and pushback from some states over the impact of Real ID, which has created confusion and delayed the official rollout of the act’s enforcement, but October 1, 2020, is now considered the firm date for enforcement at commercial airports.

Starting October 1, 2020, travelers who don’t have Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses or a state-issued enhanced driver’s license can use other acceptable forms of identification such as a passport or U.S. military identification to fly within the United States.

What to do now

Take a look at your driver’s license. If your driver’s license doesn’t have a star in the upper corner of the card, then your license is not Real ID compliant. And if you’re planning to take a domestic commercial flight any time after October 1, 2020, you’ll need to take action, make some decisions or wait for your state to get its act together.

You can decide if you are comfortable flying domestically with your passport (if you have one; only about 40 percent of Americans do) or with one of the other forms of approved identification on the TSA’s list.

“The main pushback on REAL ID is that it’s too Big Brother,” said Jeff Price, an aviation security expert with Leading Edge Strategies. “It’s a move to make everyone in the U.S. have identification, which tends to upset those who enjoy life off the grid or don’t like any more government intrusion into their lives than what is necessary.”

However, nearly every state has come into compliance. “And there haven’t been the big brother/illegal shakedown issues that some people predicted,” he said.

How to get a Real ID

The Department of Homeland Security has been phasing in enforcement of the Real ID Act in an effort to give states time to become compliant with the rules and to begin issuing enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards in time for the October 1, 2020 deadline.

Most states are currently in compliance — including Connecticut and New York — with the Real ID Act and are able to issue upgraded licenses and IDs. The DHS website has a map with the status of all the states.

Three states (Oregon, Oklahoma, and New Jersey), plus American Samoa have been granted extensions with varying deadlines for meeting the rules. (Some had until August 1, 2019, while others have until October 10, 2019).

What this means

If your current driver’s license or ID card is from a compliant state, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will accept it at airports until September 30, 2020. Starting October 1, 2020, though, licenses and IDs from these states will need to bear a star or special symbol that shows it has been upgraded to conform to the new minimum-security standards.

If your current license is from one of the three states that has been given an extension, then it’s good until the date the extension expires. After that, if the state isn’t given another extension, is it possible the TSA will require an additional or alternate form of ID (i.e., a passport) between the extension expiration date and September 30, 2020.

Come Oct. 1, 2020, though, licenses from these extension states will also need to have the star or symbol that shows it has been upgraded to meet the new minimum-security standards.

The TSA has begun verbally advising travelers who use identification that’s not Real ID-compliant that they’ll not be able to use it to fly beginning October 1, 2020.

“Real ID implementation is a little more than a year away — now is the time to prepare,” said TSA acting deputy administrator Patricia Cogswell in a statement. Since April, TSA has displayed signs at airports to remind travelers about the Real ID requirements.

Source: Travel Weekly