The 9/11 Commission long ago recommended upgrading minimum standards in identification issuance. In 2005, a law was passed to implement new identity requirements. In 2018, the next phase of this process finally goes into effect.
The law, called the REAL ID Act, is intended to prevent falsification of identifying documents, like driver’s licenses and passports, in an attempt to beef up security measures against terrorists. The act was conceived during the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks in September 2001, in which terrorists used false IDs to board aircrafts.
On January 22, 2018, the REAL ID Act will be enforced by TSA at American airports for both domestic and international travel. The details of the act include strict requirements for how IDs are issued and used. Since IDs are issued on the state level, each state sets its own parameters. Currently, 28 states are “Real ID Compliant,” and the remaining 22 states have been granted an extension to allow time to instill compliant measures. Extensions are not interminable, some only extending until January 22. Flyers should check their state site to determine state compliancy status.
Travelers who have driver’s license or identity cards from non-compliant states will need to present an alternative ID in order to get through security when they fly. A number of cards are considered acceptable to the TSA and their regulations. They include passports, boarder ID cards, trusted traveler cards, and permanent resident cards. Currently, the majority of compliant IDs have a yellow or black star at the top corner of the driver’s license, while the non-compliant IDs have lines such as “not for federal identification” scrolled across the top. While this can be helpful for many to determine if their license is adequate for travel, not all states have this identifier.
As the act rolls out in phases, the hard and firm date of October 2020 requires every U.S. license to be compliant.