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Real ID Regulations More Real Than You Think

New rules could begin to affect travelers as early as next month

While the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reminding travelers of the looming deadline for Real ID, some states may start putting requirements into place in May.

According to the TSA, every traveler will be required to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, or another acceptable form of identification beginning October 1, 2020, should flying somewhere within the United States be the goal. TSA has launched a public awareness campaign about the upcoming identification changes to ensure that every traveler is prepared for the airport security checkpoint process when the REAL ID Actgoes into full enforcement.

Travelers will begin seeing new signs at airports nationwide in the coming weeks to remind people that REAL ID-compliant licenses or other acceptable forms of ID, such as a valid passport, federal government PIV card or U.S. military ID, will be mandatory for air travel beginning on October 1, 2020. Critically important, on October 1, 2020, individuals who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the TSA checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly.

REAL ID-compliant licenses are generally marked by a star on the top of the card. Travelers who are not sure if their ID is compliant should check with their state driver’s license agency.

However, there are a few states whose residents should keep an eye out now. The only state currently under TSA review is California. At the moment, a driver’s license will work as identification through May 24, 2019. After that point, it may be necessary to bring a federal ID to the airport.

Several states have been issued an extension. The first deadline is Rhode Island with REAL ID laws going into effect on May 1, 2019. Residents of Alaska and Montana have until June 1, 2019. Those in Kentucky, Missouri and Pennsylvania have been granted an extension until Aug. 1, 2019. And Maine, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Oregon have until Oct. 10, 2019. If state IDs do not become compliant by their extensions, residents will need to bring something like a passport to the airport.

“TSA is doing everything we can to prepare our partners and the traveling public for the REAL ID deadline next year,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “The security requirements of the REAL ID Act will dramatically enhance and improve commercial aviation security.”

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act complies with the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes, such as at airport security checkpoints.

The regulations established the deadline of October 1, 2020, to ensure full enforcement of the REAL ID Act by that date.