REAL ID: What’s In Your Wallet?

November 7, 2019

Starting on Oct. 1 2020, airlines will start enforcing the final phase of the federal law known as the REAL ID Act. Although Congress passed this act over 10 years ago in 2005 and they have established many security initiatives with it, this final phase will likely be the first time the average citizen is affected by the act.

Along with knowing your flight information and ensuring your luggage is under the weight limits, you’ll need a REAL ID-compliant card to travel domestically in the United States. Let’s take a look at what this card entails and how you can obtain one.

What is a REAL ID?

When traveling on any of the many domestic airlines in the United States, every traveler will be required to present a REAL ID-compliant license, or a different form of acceptable identification such as a U.S. passport, to board their flight. These compliant licenses are distinguished by the REAL ID-compliant star marking on the card or license.

An Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) is also considered an acceptable alternative to a REAL ID-compliant card and federal agencies will accept it, although it does not have the star marking. States that currently issue EDLs include New York, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington, and Vermont.

While children under the age of 18 will not need to provide identification when traveling on airlines within the United States, their adult companion will need acceptable identification. If a traveler does not have a REAL ID-compliant license or other acceptable identification, TSA will not allow them through the security checkpoint.

How do you get a REAL ID?

With more than 2 million passengers flying in and out of U.S. airports every day, it’s imperative that every traveler has their REAL ID-compliant card or acceptable form of alternative identification well before the Oct. 1 2020 deadline. The Department of Homeland Security has been working with all states and territories to help them achieve full compliance by the deadline. As of Sept. 5 2019, 50 states and territories are fully compliant with the REAL ID requirements. All states are on track to start issuing compliant licenses and IDs by the deadline.

As an individual, you need to provide certain documentation to obtain a REAL ID. The exact documentation required varies from state to state, so you need to check the website of your state’s driver’s licensing agency to know precisely what documents you need. At a minimum, you need to show documentation that proves your full legal name, date of birth, social security number, lawful status, and two proofs of the address of principal residence.

REAL ID-compliant cards look like the standard driver’s license for your state, but they will have a star marking in the upper right-hand corner to distinguish them. If your current ID does not have this marking, you do not have a REAL-ID compliant card.

If you frequently travel domestically, remember to get a REAL ID-compliant card or have your passport or EDL up to date before Oct. 1 of next year. It may take a bit of effort to prepare your documentation and get everything squared away, but it will be well worth the effort when you can travel with ease this time next autumn. If you have any questions about the new regulations, contact the Springfield airport authority for more information.