If You Live In These States You'll Soon Need A Passport For Domestic Flights
Posted by Kawalpreet Wadhwa on 23 October 2015 03:56 AM
To comply with the 2005 Real ID Act, which the U.S. government has been slowly implementing for the past decade, citizens in a number of different U.S. states will now be forced to obtain a passport if they want to board an airplane - even for domestic flights.
The Department of Homeland Security and representatives with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have declined to comment on why certain states have been singled out, but Starting in 2016, travelers from four U.S. states New York, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa will not be able to use their driver’s licenses as ID to board domestic flights—a pretty major development considering an estimated 62 percent of Americans don’t have passports. All other states will still be able to use their state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs — for now, at least.
The new rules will go into effect sometime in 2016 (the exact date has not been announced), and there will be a three-month forgiveness period, during which people with these licenses will be warned that their IDs are no longer valid for flights.
Back at the end of December 2013, the Department of Homeland Security announced the arrival of the Real ID Act, which set federal security standards for government-issued IDs. About 70-80% of existing U.S. driver’s licenses already met those standards. But driver’s licenses from the four aforementioned states did not, and so were deemed “non-compliant.”
The act has been enforced in phases over the past couple years, and the government has now reached the final phase, which is the aircraft phase. Fliers who could previously breeze through security with their licenses from those non-compliant states will need to provide a second form of identification, such as a passport, once the Real ID Act is fully implemented and enforced. This will happen “no sooner than in 2016.”
Here’s the breakdown: if you're from one of these states, “acceptable” IDs include passports and passport cards, as well as permanent resident cards, U.S. military ID, and DHS trusted traveler cards such a Global Entry and NEXUS.
The TSA will also accept Enhanced Driver’s Licenses, the kind that are currently used to replace passports for travel to and from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Of the noncompliant states, only New York and Minnesota issue enhanced licenses.
For families from these states, at least children under 18 years old do not need ID when traveling with a companion.
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