The Countdown
to REAL ID

Travel insights from VAX VacationAccess

In less than one year, travel identification used for domestic flights must be REAL ID compliant. Your clients may be ready, depending on the state they live in. But it never hurts to be 100% sure.

What's the deal with REAL ID?

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 based on the recommendation from the 9/11 Commission to prevent fraudulent issuance and use of driver's licenses and identification cards and to further ensure the safety and security of Americans. The Act establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards and prohibits Federal agencies (like the TSA) from accepting licenses and ID cards that do not meet these standards.

The goal of REAL ID is to make the issuing and use of driver’s licenses and other state-issued ID cards more secure and less prone to fraud.

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When will this affect travelers?

The January 22, 2018 deadline is less than one year away. So on January 23, 2018, if your client doesn’t have a REAL ID compliant driver’s license and they’re planning to fly from Dallas to Chicago, they’ll need to show an alternative form of acceptable ID to get through security. This can be:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)

There are a few additional types of acceptable ID, and those are listed on the TSA’s website.

If a traveler cannot provide alternative acceptable ID, they won’t be allowed to pass through the security checkpoint. Imagine the frustration this could cause if your client is all the way at the airport, luggage in hand, only to be turned away for improper ID.

The next deadline to know is October 1, 2020. That’s when every domestic air traveler must show a REAL ID compliant license or another form of ID in order to fly.

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What states have compliant IDs?

Most states are already issuing REAL ID compliant IDs. To check what your state is up to, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a color-coded map to make it easy. Green means the state is compliant, yellow means they got an extension to become compliant and red means they’re not compliant. Click on your state to find more details and deadlines.

If your client isn’t sure if their ID is compliant, there are a few ways to tell. DHS recommends that states adopt a general design marking to show compliance. The initial recommendation is a gold star, but it can vary by color, lettering and/or format. Kentucky, for example, adds a white star in a gold circle in the upper right corner of compliant IDs. But Wisconsin got creative – some compliant IDs have a gold star and some have a black one.

VAX’s REAL ID resource page has more facts and links to give you the answers you need when your clients come to you with questions.

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