It’s 2020: Do You Know Where Your Real ID-Compliant Driver’s License Is?

Security checkpoint at T4 at JFK

By Anna Breuer on 14 January 2020
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The calendar says 2020 and that means it is almost time for Real ID.  While most if not all Frequent Business Traveler readers have a passport and, in many cases, a Global Entry card that can be used at an airport security checkpoint in the United States, almost 100 million Americans do not have any form of identification that meets the more stringent requirements.

Travelers will need Real ID-compliant identification cards to board domestic flights starting October 1, 2020, even though many almost 100 million Americans do not have one. The deadline is unlikely to be postponed, even though the implementation of the Real ID requirement for air travel has been pushed back repeatedly.

Indeed, on that date, the Transportation Security Administration, the agency which is responsible for manning security checkpoints at the nation’s airports, will stop accepting standard driver’s licenses and only accept those which are compliant with the Real ID Act of 2005, which came about as an aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

What’s worrisome is this: A study conducted late last year by the U.S. Travel Association found that 99 million Americans do not have Real ID-compliant identification.

Driver’s licenses that are Real ID compliant sport a five-point star in the top right corner. Getting one requires a trip to the local department of motor vehicles or other agency that issues licenses in your state with documentation that includes proof of identity such as a current license, birth certificate, or passport; proof of date of birth; proof of U.S. citizenship; and two proofs of residence such as utility bills or bank statements.

The rationale for Real ID came from the fact that some of the terrorists who hijacked the four planes on September 11 used fraudulently obtained driver’s licenses to traverse airport security checkpoints, but the plan raised concerns for privacy as well as the cost of implementation.  As a result, the deadline for enforcement was pushed back repeatedly from 2008 to 2009 to 2011 to 2013 and finally to October 2020.

Getting a Real ID-compliant driver’s license may have become more complicated in recent months. The U.S. Department of State said that some issuing agencies have been unable to verify valid U.S. passports using a service known as U.S. Passport Verification Services.  The State Department said it’s “unsure” what is causing the issue but that won’t help those attempting to get a Real ID-compliant license.

The good news, however, is that those impacted by the issue already have a valid passport that will be happily accepted by agents at the nearest TSA security checkpoint.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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