TSA to stop accepting some states’ drivers licenses in 2018

On January 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced new rules regarding airline passengers being able to use their driver’s licenses to fly domestically. Under the new REAL ID Act, travelers in five U.S. states and one U.S. territory will not be able to board their flights with only a driver’s license beginning January 22, 2018.

Under a post-9/11 law, state-issued identifications will only be accepted by federal agencies if they meet certain federal security standards which were passed in 2005. Driver’s licenses that meet these standards are known as REAL IDs and have been adopted by most states. Those which have not yet adopted REAL IDs will either do so later on this year, or its residents will be required present other forms of identification at TSA checkpoints when traveling by air. These states include Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, and American Samoa.

What is REAL ID and why is it being implemented?

The REAL ID Act was enacted in response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act created minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Federal agencies are prohibited from accepting licenses and identification cards that do not meet such standards. As a result of the Act, every state currently has a more secure driver’s license than before the passage of the Act.

What does this mean for travelers?

Travelers are not yet required to present additional forms of identification when traveling by air, at least for the next two years. States that do not yet comply with the REAL ID Act requirements have until January 22, 2018 to issue new identifications that meet the set standards, and beginning October 1, 2020 all passengers will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant identification or passport to fly.

For now, all state-issued licenses and identification cards (see full list at TSA.gov) are accepted at airport checkpoints under the current guidelines.

Implementation of the REAL ID Act

The following timetable was announced January 8 and outlines the stages of the REAL ID Act and its implementation for air travel.


Share on: