January 8, 2016 UPDATE: Conde Nest Traveller published an article updating the traveler on the latest news with the Real ID and which states are compliant and not. This is a constantly changing situation. Please keep yourself informed and be prepared by traveling with your passport so you don’t miss any flights due to you not having the correct ID with you.
Imagine arriving at the airport and you are wanting to board a domestic flight. You hand across your driver’s licence and boarding pass to TSA and you are DENIED entrance into the secured area! Or you arrive at the pier for that long awaited vacation and present your driver’s licence and you are DENIED boarding! WHAT?!?!
You don’t understand. You presented your state issued driver’s licence as valid ID and you are denied boarding? What is going on?
In 2016 Phase 4 of the REAL ID enforcement will come into effect. At the time of writing this there had been no announcement on the actual date. The Department of Homeland Security website just mentions “No sooner than 2016”.
How does Phase 4 of REAL ID enforcement affect travel? It means that unless your state or territory driver’s licence or state ID comply with the REAL ID requirements you could be denied boarding a domestic flight or a cruise ship; UNLESS you have an acceptable second form of ID, such as Passport, Passport Card, Military ID, etc.
How do you know if you have a REAL ID Compliant Driver’s Licence or if your state issues them? First check your state’s DMV site for information about the REAL ID Compliant Driver’s Licence AND if you have the new REAL ID Compliant Driver’s Licence according to their website description. You can also check the DHS site to see which states/territories are compliant, which are not, and those with extensions. Currently, according to the DHS website, there are four states and one territory that are not in compliance. They are American Samoa, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York. Although, in Minnesota and New York they issue Enhanced Driver’s Licences which are acceptable.
If I am denied will I be covered by my travel insurance? NO! Sorry, not having the correct documentation is not a covered reason for a claim. It is up to YOU, the traveler, to ensure all your documentation is in order prior to travel.
My thought is, if in doubt travel with your passport, yes even domestically. I always travel with my passports, you never know when you may need it.
What are your thoughts about the REAL ID compliant Driver’s Licenses? Please leave your comments below.