What is the REAL ID Act?
Originally introduced in 2005, the DHS REAL ID Act aims to establish minimum standards for state-issued drivers’ licenses and identification cards—including security features within the cards, and verification of an applicant’s source documents. Once officially rolled out, the REAL ID requirements will impact the acceptable documentation that can be used as identification by travelers boarding commercial aircraft and for other official purposes.
When will it start impacting air travelers?
At the earliest, 2016. In late December 2013, the DHS released some brief information about their plan for REAL ID enforcement. At this point, they’re planning to enforce the Act in multiple phases, with the earlier phases relating to access to DHS facilities, restricted and semi-restricted Federal facilities, and power plants. Those phases will be enforced throughout 2014 and 2015. Then, DHS will evaluate how the enforcement process has gone for the first phases, and will determine when to begin enforcing the final phase, which will impact travelers boarding commercial aircraft.
DHS has stated that enforcement for commercial aircraft passengers will occur no sooner than 2016. They’ve emphasized that the public will have ample advance notice before they implement changes to the identification requirements for boarding aircraft. In addition, they have noted that individuals with driver’s licenses or IDs from states that are not in compliance with the REAL ID Act will need to present an acceptable second form or identification to board commercial aircraft. This may include a U.S. passport or passport card.
We’ll keep an eye on the progress of enforcement and keep you up to date as additional information is made available.