You may have noticed the new signage around any airports you've visited lately, or perhaps you've seen it blasted all over the media this month, but if you haven't, here's the big travel news you need to know: 9 states in the U.S can no longer travel by air, even domestically, with only their driver's license as a form of 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.
Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act established
minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and
identification cards and prohibits federal agencies, like TSA, from
accepting licenses and identification cards for official purposes
from states that do not meet these standards.
Enforcement Dates - TSA
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 or are traveling to one, 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.
NOTES FROM TSA - See more in depth information and changes on their site.
If your state is compliant:
• You may continue to use your state-issued driver’s license or ID to fly in the U.S. until October 1, 2020.
• Beginning October 1, 2020, you may only use a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or ID or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel.
If your state is not compliant:
• Beginning January 22, 2018, you may continue to use your state-issued driver’s license or ID for domestic air travel only if your state has been granted an extension to the compliance deadline by DHS.
Beginning October 1, 2020, every traveler will need a REAL
ID-compliant license or state ID or another acceptable form of
identification to fly within the U.S.