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The Clock Is Ticking for Millions of Fliers to Update Their IDs

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The Clock Is Ticking for Millions of Fliers to Update Their IDs

After nearly 15 years, the deadline to get a REAL ID driver’s license is finally approaching; travelers without one will have to use their passports even for domestic flights



A major hassle is coming for millions of travelers: Your driver’s license may not be accepted as valid identification at TSA checkpoints 13 months from now.

Unless the federal government delays new requirements again—but don’t count on that.

The Oct. 1, 2020, deadline has the potential to create chaos at airports and disrupt travel significantly. Some estimates suggest half of all travelers may have driver’s licenses that don’t comply with requirements called REAL ID. You can quickly tell if you comply by looking for a star in the upper-right corner of your driver’s license.

A sample driver’s license with a REAL ID star in the upper right-hand corner. Different states have different designs for the star, but if you want to use your license as an ID at an airport after Oct. 1, 2020, you need a star in most cases. 

Unless you can use a passport, military ID, enhanced driver’s license (one with limited passport information embedded) or other approved identification after the deadline, you may show up at the airport and get subjected to secondary screening. Worse, you may not be able to fly. Secondary screening usually involves an interview and efforts to verify identity, and most checkpoints have limited capacity to do that. If there are too many people without IDs, ticketed passengers will be turned away.

The REAL ID Act of 2005 requires minimum standards for verifying identity when states issue driver’s licenses, plus additional security enhancements. The law came out of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission Report that the government needs to know with certainty who’s who when boarding airplanes or entering secure federal buildings.

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Typically that means proving who you are, where you live and what your Social Security number is when you get or renew a driver’s license. Most state DMVs have checklists of what you need to bring to satisfy the requirements.

It has taken more than a decade for many states to comply with the federal requirements. The Department of Homeland Security has continued to issue waivers because so many people don’t have REAL ID licenses.

Millions of travelers may find their driver’s licenses aren’t valid at airport checkpoints next year. The rules change may create chaos if passengers don’t comply ahead of time, so TSA is posting new warning signs. 

Florida began issuing the new licenses in 2010 but New York didn’t start until 2017. California, which has 27 million licensed drivers, didn’t start issuing until January 2018. In California, you must make a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles if you want REAL ID.

Maine and New Jersey just started issuing the new licenses this summer. Oklahoma and Oregon won’t get there until mid-2020. Residents in those two states could have a mad scramble of a few months to renew licenses if they count on that as their


travel ID.

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I never bothered to make the trek to DMV to get mine. I should be good with a Global Traveler ID, my passport/passport card. I’ll deal with real ID on my next DL renewal I guess since I have to go for a new picture anyway. 

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I was able to go online and renew my DL, took about 3 minutes.  

I understand it takes about 10 days to get new DL in the mail in Texas, I still had almost 2 years left on my current DL.

Not sure what the are going to do on the LTC



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