DHS Reminds Travelers that Deadline for REAL ID Compliance is One Year Away

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reminds travelers that the upcoming REAL ID requirement and enforcement will start one year from today. Beginning October 1, 2020, every air traveler must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or other acceptable forms of identification, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the United States. Individuals who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly.

“This is an important step in enhancing commercial aviation security and we urge travelers to ensure they have compliant documents,” said Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan. “DHS is committed to working with states as they continue their efforts to issue REAL IDs to Americans.”

  • Real progress has been made in less than two years. In January of 2017, only 26 states were REAL ID compliant.
  • Through voluntary partnerships with state governments, associations, DMVs, and other stakeholders across all jurisdictions, DHS can proudly say that 47 out of 50 states are currently REAL ID compliant.
  • There is still work to do. Only 27% of Americans have been issued a REAL ID at this time.

DHS has been working to increase public attention and focus on the upcoming deadline. Beginning in April, TSA has displayed signs at airports notifying the public of changing requirement. In August, TSA began verbally advising travelers who present non-compliant licenses of the upcoming REAL ID requirement and enforcement date. TSA has also co-hosted REAL ID events with motor vehicle administration officials in numerous locations around the country throughout the spring and summer, with more to come.

REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top of the card. Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue both REAL ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which are acceptable. Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only. These documents will be accepted at the airport security checkpoint when the REAL ID enforcement goes into effect. Travelers who are not sure if their state-issued ID is compliant should check with their state driver’s license agency. 

In addition, DHS has been working closely with the government officials of all 56 states and territories as well as the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and the National Governors Association to implement REAL ID and provide technical assistance.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act implements the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes, such as at airport security checkpoints. The regulations established the deadline of October 1, 2020, to ensure full enforcement of the REAL ID Act. States have made considerable progress in meeting this key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

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