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The U.S. government is now setting standards for issuing sources of identification such as driver’s licenses, through the REAL ID Act. The overall goal of the Act is to prevent the fraudulent issuance and use of driver’s licenses and identification cards, ensuring the safety and security of the American public.

All states have to meet the law’s standards for secure issuance and production of driver’s licenses and identification cards to be REAL ID compliant. This means that the states have to incorporate anti-counterfeit technology into the card, verify the applicant’s identity, and conduct background checks for employees involved with issuing driver’s licenses. 

As of January 2016, twenty three (23) states are fully compliant with the REAL ID Act. Twenty seven (27) states and territories have been granted extensions for a period of time, because they have demonstrated that they are taking steps towards compliance. There are six (6) states and territories that are noncompliant and do not currently have extensions – Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington and American Samoa.

The REAL ID Act is now in the final phase of implementation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which relates to commercial air travel:

Effective immediately, the DHS will conduct outreach to educate the traveling public about the following timeline, and continue engagements with states to encourage compliance with REAL ID standards:

Beginning July 15, 2016

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in coordination with airlines and airport stakeholders, will begin to issue web-based advisories and notifications to the traveling public.

Beginning December 15, 2016

The TSA will expand outreach at its airport checkpoints through signage, handouts, and other methods.

Beginning January 22, 2018

Passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act, and has not been granted an extension, will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight.

Passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that is compliant with REAL ID, or a state that has been issued an extension, will still be able to use their driver’s licenses or identification cards.

To check whether your state is compliant, click here.

Beginning October 1, 2020

Every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.

It is important to note that at this time, no individual needs to adjust their travel plans, or rush to get a new driver’s license or a passport for domestic air travel. Until January 22, 2018, residents of all states will still be able to use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel. Passengers can also continue to use any of the other forms of identification accepted by TSA. To view TSA's list of acceptable forms of identification, click here.

Travelers are encouraged to contact their state's driver's licensing agency about how to acquire a REAL ID compliant license.

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