We’re now just under the one-year mark before REAL ID enforcement begins in the United States.
By now, you’ve probably heard the term “REAL ID.”
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Basically, the REAL ID Act, which Congress passed in 2005, establishes minimum security standards for federal- and state-issued IDs, such as your driver’s license or identification card.
“Enforcement of the act will make it more difficult for the bad guys to get on airplanes, making travel safer for everyone,” the Transportation Security Administration said in a recent blog.
Here’s the biggest takeaway for you, as a traveler.
REAL ID enforcement will begin on Oct. 1, 2020, and you must have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification or another form of acceptable ID in order to board a flight.
“If we cannot verify your identity, you will not be permitted to enter the airport security checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly,” the TSA said.
Eleven months sounds like you have lots of time to prepare -- which, to be fair, you do.
But don’t let the Oct. 1 date sneak up on you.
Set an alarm in your phone, put it on your to-do list, make this a priority: Be sure you have a state-issued form of identification that meets the REAL ID requirements.
The TSA said it’s estimated that only 27% of U.S. citizens are ready to go.
“Be sure you don’t get stuck at the airport without proper ID next year,” the TSA blog said. “The time to prepare is now.”
Preparing, by the way, might be as simple as opening your wallet and taking a peek at your current driver’s license. Does it have a star in the corner? If the answer to that question is yes, you’re good to go. Otherwise, it’s time to make an appointment at the DMV or secretary of state's office.
Here’s what you want to look for:
If you have an enhanced license, you’re all set.
State-issued enhanced driver's licenses are marked with a flag. These will be accepted at the airport security checkpoint when REAL ID enforcement goes into effect.
“You should also know that Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue REAL ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which are acceptable,” the TSA said. “Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only.”
What about other forms of ID?
If you’re a frequent traveler who uses a Global Entry card, those are acceptable, along with passports, military IDs and several other forms of identification. Here’s a full list.
“TSA security doesn’t start at the airport,” the website said. “Once you purchase a ticket, TSA’s Secure Flight checks passenger information against watch lists. REAL ID makes it harder for people to forge identification cards making sure no one who is on a watch list boards your flight. We want you to have a safe trip.”
And now you know.