The Upcoming Real ID Requirement: What You Need to Know

By Jessica Larkin

You may have seen signs in the airport publicizing the upcoming deadline for travelers to obtain a Real ID. Now if you’re saying, “Well, my ID isn’t fake, I should be good, right?!” Maybe, maybe not. Starting on October 1, 2020, any traveler over the age of 18 will be required to have valid identification that meets criteria pursuant to the Real ID Act.

The Real ID Act was passed by congress in 2005 and enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that standards for the issuance of sources of identification, like driver’s licenses, are set by the federal government. The primary goal of this legislation was to eliminate airline terrorism through enhanced requirements on documentation to gain access to domestic planes.

As highlighted by the Department of Homeland Security, “The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.”

To put it in layman’s terms, if you do not have a Real ID by October 1, 2020, you will not be allowed to board a flight. Period.

What’s the Difference?

For starters, agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will require more documentation to verify proof of residency and Social Security number to issue Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Real ID’s are designed to have enhanced security features, such as scannable barcodes and holograms. Regarding the new requirements, the Federal Register highlights, “Physical security features on the driver’s licenses and identification cards designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, and duplication of the documents for a fraudulent purpose.”

The physical Real ID issued will also have a different look than the driver’s license you have come accustomed to seeing. For instance, on the front you will likely see a black star or language noting that the identification card is federally compliant. The back will include a scannable barcode.

What Do I Need to Obtain a Real ID?

Previously, many states offered the option to renew a driver’s license or ID card online. This is not an option for a Real ID and you will have to visit a DMV in person. According to Huffpost, you will also be required to provide the following:

We understand that October 2020 is a ways off, but recommend ensuring plenty of time to obtain this new format of identification. As highlighted by Christopher Bidwell, senior vice president of security for the Airports Council International-North America, “It’s a much more intensive process in terms of paperwork to get a compliant license than a non-compliant license.”

What Other Forms of Identification Qualify?

Now, a state-issued Real ID won’t be the only form of identification that meets the standards to board a plane as of October 1, 2020. The TSA outlines 15 forms of valid identification that can be shown at an airport checkpoint in order to travel. In addition to driver’s licenses or state photo identity cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, U.S. passports and passport cards, and DHS trusted traveler cards like Global Entry are also approved.

Outside of meeting compliance standards for the Real ID Act, Global Entry cards are a fantastic option for business travelers, especially for those with itineraries both domestically and abroad.

Why We Like Global Entry

Global Entry is managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and streamlines the customs process when returning to the U.S. via air, land, or sea. Essentially, Global Entry enables travelers to skip the in-person interview with a customs agent and utilize a self-serve kiosk.

The program costs $100 for five years and includes TSA PreCheck benefits. If you are unfamiliar, TSA PreCheck is for domestic travelers within the U.S. and provides a shorter line, and expedited screening as shoes do not need to be removed and electronics, such as laptops, can stay in bags. There are over 200 participating U.S. airports in the TSA PreCheck program.

To simplify things, TravelBank allows you to store your Known Traveler Number on your traveler profile in our app. When you book your flight via TravelBank your Known Traveler Number will be added to your booking, also ensuring TSA PreCheck details are included on your boarding pass.

Safer Skies on the Horizon

There’s no denying that these forms of ID, whether a state-issued license or Global Entry, will require more time and documentation to ensure compliance under the Real ID Act. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is enhanced traveler safety and national security. If you have questions regarding acceptable forms of identification, our support team is here to help and can be reached via phone, email, or chat.

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