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Americans Aren’t Quite Ready for the Real ID

Americans Aren’t Quite Ready for the Real ID

Few things have created as much frenzy and confusion in the travel world as the Real ID Act. In fact, some of us have been hearing about the Real ID for so long that we’ve actually grown numb to the chatter. That’s pretty problematic because the deadline for obtaining a Real ID is getting closer!

Do you have your Real ID yet? You don’t need to feel embarrassed if you’re still not fully sure about what you need to do to get one. The truth is that most Americans aren’t ready. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security revealed at the beginning of October that only 27 percent of Americans had been issued REAL IDs! We’re potentially looking at tens of thousands of travelers being turned away from flights next year if Americans don’t get on the same page when it comes to compliance.

The big thing that you need to know is that travelers must have identification cards that are compliant with Real ID requirements if they want to board domestic flights. The deadline for obtaining your Real ID is Oct. 1 of next year. Why is it so hard to get everyone on the same page with the Real ID requirement? Let’s dive into the history of what is about to change the way we all fly domestically.

What Is the Real ID Act?

The Real ID Act was passed by Congress all the way back in 2005. That means that most of us are just finally being impacted by something that has been in the works for 14 years! Unfortunately, most states have been really slow to reach full compliance. The good news is that all states other than Oklahoma and Oregon are currently compliant.

The purpose of the Real ID Act is to increase security measures when it comes to personal identification cards issued by states. The focus of the Real ID Act is essentially driver’s licenses. You and everyone you know will need identification that is compliant with the Real ID act when boarding domestic flights. Some people who don’t fly often might assume that they don’t need to be concerned with updating their identification cards. This is a mistake! Here’s the full list of situations that will require approved identification cards beginning on Oct. 1 of 2020:

  • Boarding commercial flights.

  • Entering federal buildings.

  • Entering military bases.

Just how far behind are we all when it comes to being complaint with Real ID requirements? The U.S. Travel Association says that roughly 99 million American’s still don’t have identification that is compliant. That’s pretty distressing news when you consider that the majority of American travelers use a driver’s license when passing through airport security checkpoints for domestic flights. Travelers will be able to use their passports and passport cards for domestic travel if they don’t have licenses that are compliant by the October deadline in 2020. However, the big problem with that is that only a little over 42 percent of Americans actually have passports.

You’re actually in luck if you’ve already signed up for a program like Global Entry. Your Global Entry ID is on the list of acceptable forms of compliant identification. Of course, you should probably still update your driver’s license to be compliant with the Real ID Act even if you have Global Entry. This is especially true if your Global Entry pass is set to expire soon because you could be in big trouble if you show up to an airport without any current form of acceptable identification.

How to Get a Real ID License

Still don’t have a license that’s compliant with Real ID requirements? Make your resolution for 2020 that you’ll get one as soon as possible. It’s really important to know what you need before you show up at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Here’s your rundown for what to bring:

  • Documentation showing your full legal name, date of birth and Social Security number.

  • Two proofs of address.

  • Proof of lawful status.

You’ll also need to make sure that you show up with any other documentation that your specific state requires for obtaining a driver’s license. You also have the option to get an Enhanced ID that will allow you to cross the United States border from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean by land or sea. The bottom line is that you really need to put a Real ID on your list of things to take care of as soon as possible!

View Comments (5)


  1. Dublin_rfk

    December 4, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Not ready for real ID? As someone who has always had ID that met the new/current standard I find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t have such. Then again politicians are involved. They created the monster, then decided to not meet the standard, all the while telling their sheepeople not to worry until it’s time to worry.

  2. Boggie Dog

    December 5, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I don’t believe for a second that TSA will turn away people without Real or other acceptable ID. If that happens there will be a outcry heard from coast to coast.

  3. dliesse

    December 6, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    For some people it’s just a matter of delaying the expenditure. A Real ID compliant driver’s license here costs double a standard one, so why get one before the old one expires?

  4. hipquest

    December 8, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    The very casual traveler may be affected but I believe most who are aware of the requirements to get AND require a Real ID are waiting for their appointment. It took me 2 months and I waited because it is my renewal year which I had to do in person (time to update that photo and eye test). I’d also like to point out that only 5 states offer Enhanced ID.

  5. the phoenix

    December 13, 2019 at 4:28 am

    But here’s my question. People in New York State tend to think that it’s mandatory. But as long as you have a valid passport enhanced ID is not your “top shelf ID” your US passport still supersedes an enhanced ID doesnt it?

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