REAL ID Act 2005 to Affect Domestic Travel for Residents of These Nine US States in 2018

Is a passport needed for domestic flights within USA? Yes, if you are from Washington, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, or South Carolina. Driver’s license, a most common form of identification, will be a passé for residents of these nine US states to get through airport security even for domestic travel within USA, starting January 22, 2018.

Washington, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maine, Montana and South Carolina currently do not issue state ID cards and driver’s licenses in compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005, which came to ensure safer air travel with the country after the 9/11 attack, and which requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to accept only federally approved ID cards compliant with the government’s minimum security requirements.

TSA rules, REAL ID Act 2005, domestic flights within USA

Picture Credit: US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

According to the REAL ID Act of 2005, these nine US states are required to verify the identity details of those applying for driver’s license or state ID cards, conduct a background check on those issuing driver’s licenses, and equip the ID production, issuance and validation system with an anti-counterfeit technology.

Some of these nine states are gearing up to implement the lengthy process of complying with the REAL ID Act 2005, while others have not yet responded to it due to budget shortages. New York, California, Illinois and Louisiana have not yet complied with the federal government’s minimum security standards for identification documents. These states may be granted an extension of the deadline to become compliant. If not, residents of these four states too will have to rely on passport books or passport cards for domestic flights within USA.

Needless to say, passport is widely accepted as an ID for both domestic travel and international trips. But, only 36% of people hold a valid passport in America, according to the US Department of State.

Those having no plan to make international travel may find it unnecessary to apply for passports and spend $135. Passport card is a cost-effective alternative for residents of Washington, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Maine, Montana and South Carolina to get past airport security for domestic travel within the US in 2018. A new passport card costs $55 for adults and $40 for children. It comes with 10-year validity for adults, and 5-year validity for those below 17. The way to apply for a passport card is the same as for a passport book.

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If neither passport nor passport card is convenient for you, there are other options to overcome hurdles for your domestic flights within USA in 2018. The following are alternate ID forms for you to get past TSA security checkpoints at airports:

  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license

You will not be able to pass airport security and board domestic flights within USA, without a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or another federally approved ID by October 1, 2020. Yesterday (October 26), signage started appearing at TSA security checkpoints to make travelers aware of the new TSA rules for domestic travel within USA.

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