When using air travel, the Transportation Security Authority requires a form of identification along with a boarding pass in order for passengers to go through security. In most cases, this form of identification is a state driver’s license, but beginning soon, a driver’s license might not be enough.
Beginning this year, airports in some states are requiring stricter forms of identification that show one’s identity before flying domestically. Some states will still allow licenses, but in others such as New Jersey, California and Illinois, passports may be necessary to travel from state to state. All of this complies with the Real ID Act, an act that the Department of Homeland Security is trying to implement.
The Real ID Act was originally passed in 2005 after a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission. Its goal was to provide stricter regulations with how one can prove their identity before getting a form of identification. Currently in most states, people do not have to prove their identity to get a license. With the Real ID Act, stringent identification is needed to receive a license, and the information provided to get the license would be shared into a national database.
According to The New York Times, states are against implementing the Real ID Act for privacy reasons; they feel that it is an invasion of privacy for their states’ citizens. Most states currently have laws that forbid their Department of Motor Vehicles from complying with the act, and the Department of Homeland Security has even given some states extensions to comply with the law. However, the Department of Homeland Security will stop with these extensions this year, meaning that states will eventually be required to comply with the Real ID Act.
22 states currently comply with the law, and 29 states have extensions to either June or October 2016. Massachusetts has until Oct. 10, 2016 to comply with the law. Some states, including Minnesota, were not given extensions and must comply to the Real ID Act immediately. When the Real ID Act comes into effect in these states, residents have 120 days to get another form of identification other than a license in order to travel domestically.
The Department of Homeland Security is in favor of this law, especially after the recent terror attacks in Paris, California and Brussels because it will make sure that the wrong people do not receive licenses that would allow them to travel.
Those opposed to the law believe that it is an invasion of privacy that makes people’s information such as immigration status and Social Security Number more accessible to the government. It also puts a financial burden on those that travel frequently, such as college students, because passports and other forms of identification can cost up to $135.
Once the Real ID Act is applied in all states, residents have up to 120 days to get a new form of identification. How can they do this and what options are available? Currently, there are two options: passport and verified driver’s licenses.
Passports currently cost $135, and can take up to six weeks to be processed and shipped. Additionally, passport cards can be purchased along with the passport for an extra $55, and the card can be used to travel domestically and to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Since passports take a while to be shipped, it is important to order one immediately: expedited shipping costs an extra $60.
A more cost-friendly option that more states are offering is a verified driver’s license. By putting a gold star on the top of the license, it allows those to get through security without hassle. Obtaining a verified driver’s license is as simple as just stating that you want the license verified when you renew it (and also providing the corresponding documents to make it verified, of course, which vary by state).
If you are thinking about traveling domestically in the next couple of months, make sure to get another form of identification as soon as possible. It will make going through security at the airport much easier for you and other travelers.