Along with the new year, a few changes to airline travel standards are coming into effect that may or may not hinder your travel plans. The Department of Homeland Security issued an announcement that starting January 22, 2018 there will be the enforcement of “REAL ID” at all airport security checkpoints. This stems from an act passed by congress in 2005, known as the REAL ID Acts. REAL ID Acts calls for increased airport safety and identification security standards. Passengers traveling domestically who use their state-issued identification card might run into some trouble at the gate if they are unaware of these new changes to airport protocol.


The REAL ID Acts aims to establish “a minimum-security standard for issuance and production and prohibits the FAA from accepting driver’s licenses from certain states” if they fail to meet the acts minimum security standards.  What does this mean for frequent domestic travelers? Luckily, most of the state’s issue identification which are in accordance with the guidelines. However, if you reside in Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington you will need another form of Identification to travel. This might be confusing for passengers who have been using their state ID to travel for years, but no fear!  The TSA clearly outlines the conditions of their new enforcement. For those passengers not residing in a state with REAL ID compliance, various other forms of identification are acceptable in conjunction with a state issued driver’s license. These options include:


  •     Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  •     US Passport
  •     US Passport card
  •     DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  •     Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  •     Permanent resident card
  •     Border crossing card
  •     DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  •     Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  •     HSPD-12 PIV card
  •     Foreign government-issued passport
  •     Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  •     Transportation worker identification credential
  •     Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  •     Merchant Mariner Credential

If you fail to present any of the forms, of acceptable identification, listed above you will be turned away from the gate. Additionally, these new ID standards aren’t only in effect for airline travel, but also apply to any federal location that requires the visitor to present identification.  You might be wondering why certain states stand as outliers on the list of compliant state governments. This is because, the REAL ID Act is a mandate on federal agencies that directly does not apply to the state. However, citizens of each state still rely on federal agencies, like the FAA for air travel, daily. Since state participation on the mandate is voluntarily on behalf of the state, not all the states have decided to comply. Although this mandate covers federal agencies, it has no effect on the following actions:

  •     Entering Federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification
  •     Voting or registering to vote
  •     Applying for or receiving Federal benefits
  •     Being licensed by a state to drive
  •     Accessing Health or life preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings)
  •     Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations

By 2020, the FDA will require all travelers and anyone who accessed federal agencies to require REAL ID, meaning either travels with must carry extra forms of identification with them, or states must decide to comply with the federal mandate and issue identification with elevated security standards.