Looming Real ID Deadline Could Cause Airport Headaches for Some

The federal deadline on Real ID compliance has been extended for many states until October, though residents of a few states—Louisiana, Michigan, and New York—could face issues using their driver’s license at the airport in a few weeks.

A forthcoming deadline could cause some big problems for people traveling to your upcoming meetings, depending on where they live.

On the plus side, the deadline is later for most states, and the number of states facing a January 22 deadline is far fewer than it could have been.

The federal government’s long-in-the-works Real ID requirements designate that states have ID cards that meet certain minimum standards for security. The deadline for Real ID compliance at airports is supposed to take place later this month, at which time travelers going through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at an airport would need to have an ID that meets federal standards. However, the TSA revealed to Condé Nast Traveler this week that it was extending the deadline until October 11, 2018, for a number of states in the process of complying with the Real ID regulations.

While the regulatory delays and extensions cover most states and U.S. territories—the 27 that have already distributed Real ID-capable identification and the 20 that have received extensions until October 11—three states are still waiting for approval from the government for their extensions to go through, and that could cause upcoming travel hiccups.

Travelers from those states—Louisiana, Michigan, and New York—will not be able to travel without a passport or other federal ID after January 22, per Condé Nast Traveler, unless their states’ extension applications are approved before then. Two U.S. territories—American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands—also remain under review.

The 20 states that have received extensions include Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina. Additionally, the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also received extensions.

The Real ID effort dates all the way to the days after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, and while the law was passed in 2005, state driver’s license programs have struggled to keep up with the deadlines set by the DHS for Real ID compliance. In its early years, the law was seen as controversial by state officials, though in recent years, many states have made efforts to catch up to the law.

The 2005 law is intended to be fully implemented by October of 2020, and all travelers will be required to have a Real ID-approved form of identification, regardless of location. Residents that do not update their ID cards in time will be barred from flying unless they use a form of approved federal identification such as a passport.

“Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy,” the Department of Homeland Security states on its website. “Law enforcement must be able to rely on government-issued identification documents and know that the bearer of such a document is who he or she claims to be. REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the Federal Government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents, which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”

(BSPC/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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