Virginia, US

Dec 12 2017

New Domestic Air Travel ID Requirements Take Effect on January 22, 2018

United States

Executive Summary

  • If you fly within the United States on or after January 22, 2018, your identification must comply with the REAL ID Act. 
  • Your state-issued driver’s license or ID card is acceptable for domestic air travel if your state is in compliance or has received an extension to bring its documentation into compliance with the Act.
  • If your state is not compliant and has not received an extension, you will need alternative identification – such as a valid passport – for domestic air travel on or after January 22, 2018. 

The situation

Beginning January 22, 2018, air travelers in the United States must show identification that complies with the document security requirements of the REAL ID Act. If you use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card when traveling domestically:

  • The state of issuance must meet REAL ID requirements or have received an extension; or
  • You must present an alternative form of identification, such as a valid passport or other acceptable documentation, to board a domestic flight.

To date, most U.S. states have either complied with the REAL ID Act or have received an extension.
Is your state driver’s license acceptable for air travel?
Before January 22, 2018, check the REAL ID Act compliance status of your state using the Department of Homeland Security’s color-coded map
  • If your state is compliant, you may use your state-issued identification to board a U.S. domestic flight. 
  • If your state was granted an extension, you may use your state-issued ID to board a domestic flight through the specified extension date. 
  • If your state is under review, prepare to use a REAL ID-compliant document for air travel beyond January 22, 2018. Keep checking the map, however, because DHS could grant your state an extension or deem it compliant before January 22, 2018. 

Other acceptable forms of identification
If your state has not met REAL ID requirements or received an extension, the Transportation Security Administration will accept the following documents, among others: 
  • An unexpired U.S. or foreign passport; 
  • A DHS trusted traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST); 
  • A USCIS Employment Authorization Document (EAD);
  • A U.S. lawful permanent resident card (green card); or
  • An enhanced driver’s license (EDL) (even if your state is not otherwise compliant with REAL ID).

For additional acceptable documents, see the TSA’s full list
Looking ahead 
By October 1, 2020, all U.S. states will be required to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and state identification documents. All domestic air travelers will be required to use a REAL ID-compliant document by that deadline.
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.