What REAL ID enforcement means for you

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If you’ve been in an airport, watched the news, picked up a newspaper, or essentially lived anywhere other than on a remote island for the past couple of years, you’ve likely heard chatter about the United States’ REAL ID law. This legislation requires all states to update their driver’s licenses by a certain date, with the goal of the new cards meeting a greater and universal threshold for safety and security.

For a number of reasons—ranging from concerns about federal government overreach to differences between political parties and more—a number of states have fallen behind the established timeline by which they must comply with the new law.

These states include:

Minnesota, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

So what does this mean for residents of these states?

Starting Jan. 22, 2018, your driver’s license will no longer be an acceptable form of identification for you to fly with domestically. You will need additional identification with you that is REAL ID compliant, such as a passport.

It’s important to note, however, that many of the states mentioned above that are working toward compliance recently have (Minnesota, for example) or are in the process of (Illinois, for example) applying for extensions to the deadline. The majority of the states applying for extra time are expected to be granted it, which means that residents of states given extensions will still be able to fly domestically with just their driver’s license after Jan. 22, 2018.

Slightly confusing, right?

In short, if you plan on flying domestically after Jan. 22, 2018, it’s extremely important to be aware of the status of your state’s REAL ID compliance.

One of the easiest ways of doing this is by reaching out to your travel consultant for the necessary information. Another safe option is to simply use your passport, which is REAL ID compliant, as your main source of identification when you’re traveling domestically or internationally for the time being.

If you don’t have a passport, or if you need to renew yours, now is a good time to do so—especially if your state has yet to reach REAL ID compliance.

Side note: If you haven’t heard of the REAL ID Act and have been living as a recluse on a white sand beach south of the equator, would you like company? I can have my bags packed by tonight—and by bags I mean a Yeti filled with ice and a battery powered margarita maker…

Is your driver’s license already REAL ID compliant?