Beginning January 22, 2018, travelers may not be able to use their state-issued IDs at airport security checkpoints. In actuality, however, the majority of U.S residents are in the clear through October 10, 2018.
These deadlines are part of the Real ID Act, which establishes federal standards for accepting state-issued identification in order to strengthen national security. The Real ID Act has been implemented in stages since 2005, with upcoming air travel regulations marking the final stage.
Currently, twenty-six states and the District of Columbia are in compliance with the new federal standards. All other states have either been granted extensions past the January deadline or are currently having extensions reviewed. To view your state’s compliance status, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Real ID webpage; the interactive map is updated in real time.
To avoid disruptions, travelers should review their state’s current compliance status and verify if their state ID will be accepted. Individuals should also verify that they possess an alternate form of appropriate identification. The TSA currently accepts 15 forms of identification, including state-issued IDs. Those without an acceptable form of identification will not be allowed to fly.
Current extensions are renewable for up to a year, upon approval by the Secretary of Homeland Security. However, all states will be required to be Real ID compliant by October 1, 2020.
Background on the Real ID Act
The Real ID Act was established in response to the national tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001. After a thorough review, the 9/11 Commission recommended standards be developed for issuing personal identification like driver’s licenses. The measure was passed by Congress in 2005.
The Real ID Act established minimum security requirements for issuing and producing state identification that federal agencies could accept. Access to military bases, nuclear power plants, and nearly all federal facilities would require a secure form of identification. Domestic travelers would also need to provide a secure form of ID to clear airport security.
On December 20, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security announced a Congress-approved enforcement plan for Real ID. Implementation would occur in stages, in order to accommodate for the significant changes required. Identification requirements for air travel would be the last to be rolled out.
Though air travel regulations come into effect next year, air travel compliance with the Real ID Act began in 2016. At that time, federal agencies launched public education campaigns and partnered with individual states on compliance efforts. Meeting the new security requirements forced some states to change their laws and make significant technological upgrades; implementation has been gradual in order to respect the significant burden states have shouldered in order to comply.