There’s been a lot of coverage recently about states with driver’s licenses that do not meet the requirements of the federal Real ID law, and whether travelers holding those licenses might have to bring a passport to the airport as an alternative ID. Now it seems that many state driver’s licenses (including California’s) do not comply with that law – but there’s some question about how soon they need to be replaced.
Over the weekend, we heard from readers concerned about scary headlines such as “Californians will have to pay for new ID cards soon.” They breathlessly told readers that “Your current California driver’s license or ID card soon won’t be accepted by the TSA.” But a few paragraphs further, they said that new Real ID-compliant licenses won’t be needed until October 1, 2020. Three years away doesn’t seem very soon.
So there is no need for Californians to rush out and get a new license before January 18. You can rest easy. For a while…
The California Department of Motor Vehicles, now says on its website that “A valid California driver license or ID card (i.e., not a Real ID-compliant one) can be used to board a commercial flight or enter secure federal facilities until October 1, 2020.”
The confusion came when the DMV also said it will make Real ID-compliant licenses available starting next year, and will start taking applications for them January 22, 2018. Readers and editors thought that mean the deadline to get a new license was January 18 when in fact it’s not until 2020.
Regrettably, the TSA has done a poor job keeping travelers and the media abreast of correct, current and consistent information about new Real ID requirements. Our requests to TSA for clearer information remain unanswered.
- TSA: “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.”
Californians should just be aware that if they want to use their driver’s licenses as an ID to get through TSA screening at the airport, they have plenty of time to get a new one that complies with the law.
Phew! No matter what state you are from, it’s a good idea to simply travel with your passport (or similar ID) whenever you plan to board a plane. Mine is now permanently packed in my go-bag. What about you?