REAL ID Act: New Security Measures Started January 22
This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.
As of January 22, 2018, passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that does not yet comply with the REAL ID Act and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state that is complying or that has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual.
Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler must present a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel. A REAL ID compliant license is one that meets, and is issued by a state that complies with, the REAL ID Act’s security standards.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) noted that REAL ID allows compliant states to issue driver’s licenses and identification cards where the identity of the applicant cannot be assured or for whom lawful presence is not determined. Some states currently issue such noncompliant cards to undocumented individuals. These cards must clearly state on their face (and in the machine-readable zone) that they are not acceptable for official purposes and must use a unique design or color to differentiate them from compliant cards, DHS said. DHS cautioned against assuming that possession of a noncompliant card indicates the holder is an undocumented individual, given that several states issue noncompliant licenses for reasons unrelated to lawful presence.
Many states are already REAL ID compliant. DHS reportedly has granted the following states and territories an extension until October 2018 to meet federal standards and make their state-issued IDs compliant: Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Northern Mariana Islands, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia and Washington.
States under review for a renewed extension include New York, Michigan and Louisiana.
Travelers can check DHS’s website for additional information and can check with a state’s driver’s license-issuing agency about how to acquire a compliant license. DHS’s REAL ID webpage is here. DHS’s Transportation Security Administration’s list of acceptable forms of identification for airport checkpoints is here.