The deadline for REAL ID is once again extended, but this time until October 1, 2020. There has been a lot of confusing news out there about the true deadline and deadline extensions. REAL ID affects everyone who flies domestically, so it’s important for you to know what’s really going on so you can help your clients be prepared.
VAX contacted TSA via email and they said that starting on January 22, 2018, if a traveler’s driver’s license or ID card is issued by a State that is not compliant with REAL ID and has not received an extension, the traveler must present an alternate form of acceptable ID. According to this page on the Department of Homeland Security's website, however, all states are either compliant or have been granted an extension until October 10, 2018 to issue REAL ID-compliant IDs. So the January 22, 2018 date is not an issue for travelers.
If a traveler’s ID is issued by a compliant State or a State with an extension (so, all states), it is not necessary for them to renew their ID early. Unexpired licenses from compliant States or States with extensions will continue to be accepted.
Starting on October 1, 2020, every passenger must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card or another acceptable form of ID for air travel.
VAX also confirmed with TSA via their @askTSA Twitter account that travelers may continue to use their state-issued ID to fly domestically. TSA also directed us to keep an eye on this page on the DHS site for the latest information on state extensions.
Here's a refresher on REAL ID. In 2005, after a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which enforces a minimum security standard for states issuing licenses. Ultimately, the REAL ID Act aims to create safer travel by eliminating the occurrence of falsified identification. VAX has a handy table that spells out the differences between types of travel identification, which can be confusing.
It’s a good idea to review this information regularly in case further changes are made. And because this is such a confusing topic and TSA's web pages on it are not always clear, it may not hurt to tell your clients to bring their passport as a main or alternate source of identification for both domestic and international travel if you have any doubts about their ID type and their state's compliance.