The REAL ID – what you need to know before traveling by air domestically in the United States on January 22nd, 2018

TSA checkpoint

The REAL ID Act was actually passed by Congress in 2005 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.”  All states must meet the Act’s minimum standards for the issuance of driver’s licenses or identification cards or federal agencies are prohibited from accepting these ID’s for certain purposes such as accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, or boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

ID requirements will change at the TSA checkpoint beginning January 22nd, 2018.

This means that you will be required to make sure that your state is in compliance or has been granted an extension by the REAL ID Act if you plan to use your driver’s license to pass through TSA checkpoints.

Here is the link for the Homeland Security website showing which states are compliant, have been granted extensions, or are under review.


Beginning October 1st, 2020, EVERY TRAVELER will need a REAL ID – compliant license or state ID or another acceptable form of identification ( U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler card) to fly within the U.S.  Here is a link to a list of other acceptable ID’s to carry with you if you are under any uncertainty about the status of your state’s compliance:


I was completely unaware of this law until I opened my AAA magazine and saw an article about it.  Public awareness of this program has not been widely broadcast on news media so it is important to keep track of it if you plan to update your driver’s license by 2020 or if you need to renew it after 2020.

In other words, you should make sure TODAY that your state is in compliance or has been granted an extension with the federal law and that you update your license by October 2020 in order to fly domestically.  I checked the map provided by DHS and learned that my state’s extension is only granted through October 10th, 2018.

Check the DHS site before taking action, as it appears that any information is subject to change.



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