Some airline passengers may be in for a rude awakening next January if they live in one of the nine states where driver’s licenses do not comply with the REAL ID Act, a federal mandate to establish minimum security standards for state-issued IDs.
Starting in January 2018, non-compliant driver’s licenses from Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington will no longer be accepted as identification at TSA checkpoints, including for domestic flights.
Unless these states update the protocol for issuing driver’s licenses to comply with the law, residents who want to board a commercial flight will have to present alternative ID, such as a passport, Global Entry card, or military ID.
The REAL ID Act was established in 2005 following recommendations by the 9/11 Commission to improve aviation security. The 9/11 hijackers used Virginia and Florida driver’s licenses to pass through airport security before boarding commercial airplanes.
States have had years to comply, but some refused, even going so far as to create laws to make compliance illegal. The REAL ID Act requires personal data from driver’s license applications to be archived in a database for 10 years, which some say encroaches on the privacy rights of citizens.
Lawmakers from some states are working feverishly to address the deficiencies, while others have proposed a less robust version of the act.
For its part, the Department of Homeland Security has already posted notices in airports to remind passengers that they will need to be REAL ID compliant by January 2018.
Visit the Department of Homeland Security FAQ page to check the status of your driver’s license. If you live in one of the non-compliant states, consider getting a passport now to help you avoid the significant inconvenience of being turned away by TSA.