Cleared for Takeoff? Not If Your License Isn’t a REAL ID

Author: Curt Wagner       

This REAL ID story was updated 03/24/20.

Millions of Americans may not be able to fly domestically when the REAL ID Act becomes law on Oct. 1, 2020, because they are unaware that the program requires them to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other approved form of identification.

The REAL ID study, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, found that 72 percent of Americans either still did not have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other ID, or they were unsure if they did. Other Americans do not have an alternative to REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses, such as a U.S. passport.

According to the study, an estimated 99 million Americans may not currently hold the proper identification required to pass through airport security when the deadline hits. Because of this, the Department of Homeland Security wants to automate some parts of the application process, TravelPulse reported Nov. 8.

Despite efforts by Homeland Security and TSA to educate Americans about the issue, more than half — 57 percent — of Americans do not even know about the upcoming REAL ID deadline, the study found. To boost those education efforts, the U.S. Travel Association has developed a REAL ID toolkit with resources that can help explain the new security measure and its requirements.

Here’s what you need to know to help educate attendees flying within the U.S. to your event, come Oct. 1, 2020:

  • Generally, the government says, REAL ID-compliant licenses will have a star on the top part of the card. Travelers who are not sure if their ID is compliant should check with their state driver’s license agency to find out if it is, and how they can get a new one.
  • The other acceptable forms of ID are a valid passport, a federal government PIV card, or a U.S. military ID. Make sure that your passport is updated by Oct. 1, 2020. According to the State Department, the current processing time for routine service ranges from six to eight weeks. The slow season for renewals runs between September and December. You can find all the information for a first-time passport application or renewal at the U.S. Department of State website.

Remember, without one of the accepted forms of identification or a REAL ID-compliant license, individuals will not be permitted to enter TSA checkpoints and will not be allowed to fly. The TSA’s REAL ID page explains everything in detail, along with an FAQ page.

The study was created looking at the results of separate online self-completion surveys, one conducted in July 2019 and one in Sept. 2019 by the market research consultancy Longwoods International. Both surveys questioned 1,000 adults age 18 or older and the results were adjusted according to the most recent Census targets for age, gender, income, household composition, and region. Visit this U.S. Travel Association page for the full results of the survey, and the methodology used.

This story originally was posted August 14, 2017. It was updated on July 17 , Oct. 1, and Nov. 12, 2019.

03/24/20 Update: The REAL ID deadline has been extended to 2021.


Travelers soon will start to see signs like this at airports, explaining the changing ID requirements for domestic travel in the U.S. (TSA)


Related Posts

Become a Member

Get premium access to provocative executive-level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence.