You may have noticed the new signage around any airports you've visited lately, or perhaps you've seen it blasted all over the news this month, but if you haven't, here's the big travel news this month: 9 states in the U.S can no longer travel by air, even domestically, with only their driver's license as ID starting January 22, 2018.
In compliance with the Department of Homeland Security's 2005 REAL ID Act, certain states who issue ID's which do not meet government minimum security standards must now use a passport, military ID, or permanent residence card for all TSA checkpoints. This has been enforced to 'discourage forgeries and prevent terrorism' throughout the U.S.
The states affected by the change include Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington.
So what does this mean for you?
If you or others in your student group do not currently have a passport or permanent residence card and you live in one of the aforementioned states, you may want to invest in one now, especially if you plan to do any traveling early in 2018. A passport typically takes 3-6 months to acquire and will cost anywhere from $85-$125.
If, however, you do not want to go get your passport this year you can just take the 'wait and see' approach with the situation and see if your particular state will change legislation anytime soon, passing new ID standards and allowing driver's licenses to be an accepted form of identification.
'DHS continues to work with states to encourage compliance and may grant extensions or determine compliance for additional states as warranted.' (Homeland Security)
There are only 24 states currently (plus Washington D.C) that meet the particular standards, though by 2020 all states are expected to meet the REAL ID standards.