Under the federal law enacted by Congress in 2005, states must issue IDs with anti-counterfeit technology built into the card, verify the ID applicant's identity, and perform background checks on employees who are tasted with issuing driver's licenses, among other requirements. So far, only 23 states are fully compliant, 27 states and territories have received extensions to become compliant, and six states and territories – Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, and American Samoa – are not compliant, according to DHS.
After extending the deadline to 2018, the agency released updated timeline for enforcing the READ ID act, per the press release:
- Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security will conduct outreach to educate the traveling public about the timeline below, and continue engagements with states to encourage compliance with REAL ID standards.
- Starting July 15, 2016, TSA, in coordination with airlines and airport stakeholders, will begin to issue web-based advisories and notifications to the traveling public.
- Starting December 15, 2016, TSA will expand outreach at its airport checkpoints through signage, handouts, and other methods.
- Starting January 22, 2018, passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight. To check whether your state is compliant or has an extension, click here. Passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that is compliant with REAL ID (or a state that has been issued an extension) will still be able to use their driver’s licenses or identification cards.
- Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.
But if you're smart and want to avoid this headache entirely, your best bet is getting a passport -- that is, if you don't have one already. Oh, and you might as well expand your horizons while you're at it.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and can breathe a sigh of relief, for now. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.