The Real ID Act? What is it? What’s a Real ID, even? If you’ve never heard of it, chances are you’re not a frequent domestic flyer in the United States.
Go to any airport in the United States and you will see unavoidable signs at TS checkpoints that indicate imminent changes to what entails ‘acceptable identification for air travel’. This change is what the Real ID is all about.
- What is the Real ID Act?
The events that transpired post the 9/11 attacks forced the government to make drastic changes to the United States’ flight policies. It passed this act in 2005.
The act outlines the minimum security standards for all state-issued ID cards and also driver’s licenses. Federal agencies will neither recognize nor accept the said IDs and licenses from non-compliant states. The reason for all this? To help curb airline terrorism, so you can understand how important this act is.
- Do I Really Need a Real ID for Domestic Flights?
Yes. It is imperative you get one before the 1st of October, 2020, because that’s when the act will be fully implemented into law. Simply put, if you don’t have a Real ID by the aforementioned date, you won’t be able to fly domestically using your usual means (driver’s license, etc.).
You can fly from one state to another using your passport, of course, but that will be the only legit and acceptable means of identification you can use if you don’t have a Real ID, come the appointed date.
- How Soon Can I Get a Real ID?
It begins with your state. If it passes the Real ID approval, then you can begin to process getting the ID card itself.
Mind you, the process might not be as smooth as you might hope. Getting the Real ID entails you take a trip to a DMV along with all the necessary paperwork (proof of lawful presence in America).
Non-citizens can also get the Real ID, though it will obviously be a more complicated process altogether. The Department of Homeland Security’s ‘DHS REAL ID FAQ’ page should have any questions pertaining to complicated cases such as this, so check it and see if it answers your inquiries.
- I Have a Real ID. Does That Mean My Passport is Now Irrelevant?
No, you still need a passport to fly outside the country. And remember, you can still use your passport for domestic travel. Your passport can get you through airport security in both instances, but your Real ID will only suffice for domestic travel.
So how important is the Real ID? Lifetime Time Travel ranks it as VERY important because not everyone has an international passport. And getting a passport now might require even longer times than is usual, so make it a priority to get your Real ID if you don’t already have it; or try to get both the Real ID and passport, if you have neither.
If you still need more information on the Real ID act, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to enlighten you on all you need to know. We’re a full service travel agency based in Greenville, SC, but you can easily contact us via our webpage.