The REAL ID Act and Its Impact on Travel

ITA Group
ITA Group

Man and women walking through an airport with rolling suitcases

The REAL ID Act was a piece of legislation passed in 2005 that established minimum security standards for state-issued IDs. This Act prohibits Federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards for domestic air travel from states that do not meet these standards. The Act regulates boarding federally regulated aircrafts, access to Federal facilities and entrance into nuclear power plants.

You can check if your state is compliant, has received an extension or is under review by clicking on your state on this map from the DHS website.

What You Need to Know About the REAL ID Act and Domestic Air Travel

The rules of the Act have been and will continue to be rolled out in stages. Starting January 22, 2018, the REAL ID Act will go into effect. Passengers who have driver’s licenses issued by a state that is not yet compliant or has not received an extension must show an alternate form of identification for domestic air travel.  Please see the TSA’s website for a list of acceptable identification.

Passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that is compliant with REAL ID (or a state that has been issued an extension) will still be able to use their driver’s licenses or identification cards, even if they do not actually have the REAL ID gold star on them yet.

For more information on your state's compliance, please see the DHS REAL ID website. It will be the traveler's responsibility to confirm that they are presenting the appropriate identification at airport check-in.

Looking Ahead

The biggest hurdle will come in 2020 when travelers will need to present an actual REAL ID before boarding a commercial aircraft.

Starting October 1, 2020, all passengers from all states/territories must present a REAL ID driver’s license, or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel, such as a passport.

Applying for an official REAL ID will be similar to the application process for your first driver’s license.

Keep up to date on progressions with the REAL ID Act from the DHS.