In the wake of 9/11, Congress passed the REAL ID Act. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this Act “established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards”. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.
Translation: As of January 22, 2018, if you attempt to check in at an airport with a non-compliant license and do not have an alternate acceptable form of ID, you will not be allowed to board your flight. Furthermore, “expiring states/territories with a Limited Extension will be subject to REAL ID enforcement as of July 10, 2017”.
The good news is that 26 states and U.S. territories are already compliant with the Act, including Alabama. Eighteen have extensions until October 10, 2017 and eight others have limited extensions until June 7, 2017. Those with extensions are actively working to be compliant before the extension runs out. Four states remain non-compliant.
While Alabamians with current Alabama Driver’s Licenses are in the clear, people who have recently migrated from other states and still have their old driver’s license should verify whether or not their prior state of residence is compliant. Permanent residents of other states should check their state’s compliance right away.
What should you do if your state is not compliant?
- To check the status of your state, go to the REAL ID Enforcement page on the Homeland Security Website.
- If your state is not compliant, you can still travel using acceptable forms of identification as outlined in the TSA.gov website’s Transportation Security Information section for a list of alternate forms of ID.
- Although the state of Minnesota is currently listed as non-compliant, if you are a resident and have an Enhanced Driver’s License, you will be allowed to continue using this form of identification for flights.
- If you’ve recently moved to a compliant state, get a new license as soon as possible or make sure to have a valid, current passport.
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
For more information on the REAL ID Act, check out REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions for the Public.
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