REAL ID Act to Impact IDs Accepted for Air Travel

Irving—The REAL ID Act is a law passed in 2005 to serve as another layer of safety for those flying domestically. Recommended by the 9/11 Commission, the act has been enacted in stages so federal agencies, such as the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), can improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents as part of a larger plan to hinder terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent or illegal identification.

Beginning on Oct. 1, 2020, all air travelers age 18 and older, as well as those entering federal buildings, must have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings. Texas driver’s license holders can check to see if their ID is compliant by looking in the upper right-hand corner of the license. If a yellow star is printed there, the driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant, and the person should have no trouble getting through security.

If someone has an older license with no star, they can either use a current, valid passport in addition to their state-issued ID, to board a plane after October 2020, or go to their local Department of Public Safety office to get a new license.

As of 2018, most states have made REAL ID-compliant documents available, and Texas is one of them. The Texas Department of Public Safety has been issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and state IDs since Oct. 16, 2016.

“If someone does not have REAL ID-compliant identification by October of 2020, the best thing to do is to get a new license,” a Homeland Security media representative said. “Passports are REAL ID-compliant for both domestic and international flights, but it may be easier, especially for passengers flying domestically, to get their compliant licenses. There will be no extensions for this, so Oct. 1, 2020 is a real and firm deadline.”

Other acceptable forms of identification the TSA will accept after Oct. 1, 2020 include: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) trusted traveler cards (i.e. Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST); U.S. Department of Defense IDs, including IDs issued to dependents; permanent resident cards; border crossing cards; DHS-designated enhanced driver’s licenses; federally recognized, tribal-issued photo IDs; Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 Personal Identification Verification (HSPD-12 PIV) cards; foreign government-issued passports; Canadian provincial driver’s licenses or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada cards; transportation worker identification credentials; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization cards (I-766); and U.S. Merchant Mariner credentials.

For those under age 18 who need to board a flight, no identification is required, as long as they are with an adult companion with a REAL ID-compliant form of identification.

In the unfortunate instance that an ID is lost or left at home, the passenger may still be able to fly, as long as TSA can confirm his or her identity. This process includes collecting personal information and being subject to additional screenings and pat-downs by TSA employees. If an identity cannot be verified, that person will not be allowed past the security checkpoint.

The standard flight safety rules apply until and after Oct. 1, 2020, including putting any carry-on liquids up to three ounces into a baggie and the prohibition of anything remotely sharp.

Passengers who travel often or do not have the patience to wait in security lines can sign up for services like Clear, which use biometrics (fingerprints, eye scans) to move people through the security process quickly and easily. Because the passenger has to go through several steps to be accepted into the Clear program, it is REAL ID-compatible.

Written by Stacey Doud