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Are You REAL ID-Compliant? Here’s What You Need to Know

by Cassie Sclafani, on March 26, 2021

We’ve talked about this before here on the AmTrav Blog (if you’re new here, welcome!), so you may already know about the REAL ID Act. But this “old news” has new life as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the REAL ID deadline from October 2020 to October 1, 2021

This means that starting on October 1st, all U.S. travelers must be REAL ID-compliant to board any domestic flight or have an alternate acceptable form of identification. It feels like October will be here before we know it, so here’s what you need to know about the REAL ID Act and what it means for you.

What is the REAL ID Act?

Established after 9/11, the REAL ID Act was originally put into place to help eliminate terrorism by increasing the requirements necessary to get a license or state identification which you need in order to board a commercial flight in the US. Basically, it establishes the minimum security standards for you to obtain a state-issued driver’s license or ID card.

How do I know if I’m REAL ID compliant?

If your driver’s license or ID card has a star and/or flag or it says “Enhanced,” then you’re good to go. 

Check out these examples of what a compliant ID looks like from the Department of Homeland Security:

Examples of a compliant ID or license

How do I get REAL ID ready?

If you need to update your license or ID card to meet the REAL ID requirements, go ahead and pack your patience because you’ll need to head over to your local DMV. Do some research ahead of time to find out exactly what documents you’ll need to bring with you - some states do have additional requirements. But at a minimum, you must provide documentation showing: 

  • Full Legal Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence
  • Lawful Status

Due to COVID, many DMVs are operating by appointment only right now so double check that you’re bringing the right documents with you and it shouldn’t take too long to update your license or ID.

What happens if I’m not REAL ID-compliant by October 1st?

After the deadline, you won’t get through the security checkpoint at the airport without a REAL ID-compliant license/ID or another acceptable form of identification - you will be turned away

What are alternate acceptable forms of identification?

You can use your passport to get through TSA if your license or ID is not REAL ID-compliant. You’ll just have to remember to carry it with you every time you travel - internationally or not.

For a full list of acceptable alternate forms of ID, check out the TSA’s list here.

The bottom line

Ready or not, this is happening. So by October 1, 2021 if you are a business traveler who

  1. is flying domestically and only wants to carry your license, or
  2. does not have a passport,

then make sure you obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification sooner rather than later.

While the COVID vaccination rollout continues and travel begins to pick up again, the last thing you want is to be turned away at security after finally getting to travel again, all because you're not REAL ID-compliant.

For more information about the REAL ID Act, check out the Department of Homeland Security’s FAQs or reach out to a member of our team - we’re always ready to help!

Topics:Real IDReal ID ActTSAAir TravelHomeland securityBusiness TravelersReal ID-compliant

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