Lately, you may have heard some rumors about the Real ID Act—and that it might require some travelers to have passports for domestic travel. Although many Americans are only learning about this recently, the Real ID Act was actually passed in 2005. It’s a project the government began to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued IDs by holding them to higher criteria, therefore making them harder to duplicate. The Real ID Act has already been implemented throughout federally protected facilities, and the final step of the program is regulating access to commercial aircraft.
So, what does this mean for travelers?
Going forward, state-issued licenses will have to meet certain standards in order to be used as identification for domestic flights. (Passports will still be required for international flights.) Should a state-issued license not meet the criteria set forth by the Real ID Act, residents of that state will need a second, approved form of identification in order to board their flight.
The good news: many states already meet the criteria, while many more have been working to meet the requirements since the inception of this act in 2005. States that are continuing to improve their state-issued identification can, and have, applied for extensions with Homeland Security as they ramp up to the new standards set forth by the Real ID Act.
As of today, only American Samoa and Minnesota have not adopted this new criteria or received an extension from Homeland Security, which means that travelers to or from those destinations will need to have their second form of identification on hand. While Homeland Security will provide ample notice to those needing an alternate form of identification in order to fly, you can check your state’s compliance or extension status on the Department of Homeland Security website.
Here at Go Ahead, we always recommend having a passport. Even if you’re not planning to travel internationally anytime soon, U.S. passports are valid for 10 years and are a great backup form of identification. Read up on how to apply for or renew your passport here.
Questions about applying for or renewing your passport? Our Customer Relations team is on hand to help out at 1.800.597.0350.