Well, better late than never…it looks like citizens of New Mexico (as well as other states that issue driver’s licenses that aren’t compliant with the REAL ID Act) will still be allowed to fly with their driver’s licenses after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Previously, New Mexican government officials had been warning citizens that they would not be able to use their driver’s licenses to fly after January 1st, 2010. That is the date that the REAL ID Act, enacted in 2005 due to concerns about terrorism, was set to go into effect. Three dozen states, including New Mexico, do not comply with REAL ID requirements. If law goes into effect January 1st, as planned, that could leave a lot of people who wouldn’t be allowed to use their license to fly and who probably don’t have passports.
Now, KOAT.com is reporting that the New Mexico Delegation has been assured that somehow, the law will be fixed to allow people to continue to fly on their driver’s licenses after the deadline. The article quotes the three senators as saying:
“We fully understand the anxiety this situation has caused New Mexico holiday travelers, but we have received every assurance that there is no need for them to worry. Anyone planning to travel with a state-issued identification will not be hindered.”
So, it appears passports won’t be necessary for holiday travel for New Mexicans after all. However, the government has not specified how they are going to circumvent the new regulations. The federal government would prefer that the PASS ID act be passed and signed into law to postpone the REAL ID act, but other “contingency plans” are being developed.
If you decide you want to get a passport anyway, just in case, remember that it does take 6 weeks for normal passport processing and 3 weeks for the government’s expedited passport processing. If you are traveling internationally and you need your passport more quickly, the easiest way to get one is to use an expediter like RushMyPassport.
Expediters hand-deliver your application to the US Department of State, resulting in super-fast turnaround times. In fact, at RushMyPassport.com, we often mail passports back to our clients in as little 24 hours.