Will New Mexico residents need a US passport for domestic flights?  New Mexico residents are scurrying to get passports before the January 15, 2013 Real ID Act deadline.

After that date, there is a distinct possibility that New Mexico driver’s licenses will no longer be acceptable identification for domestic flights. Because New Mexico doesn’t require proof of citizenship to get a driver’s license, the state isn’t in compliance with the standards set forth in 2005’s Real ID Act. Since the law was passed, the Department of Homeland Security has periodically issued extensions to allow residents of states who don’t comply to continue to fly with just their driver’s licenses.

This year, nobody is sure whether they will do so or not. Governor Susana Martinez has been warning citizens that the day of reckoning is finally at hand, but others, like the ACLU, believe she is just using “scare tactics” to advance her political agenda. After all, New Mexico is not the only state that isn’t fully compliant. Louisiana residents are worried as well.

According to KOB Eyewitness News, the governor advises that  “it is better to be prepared with a valid US passport to avoid any possible confusion,” and it’s hard to argue with that. Meanwhile, officials at Sunport told the station that

“Neither the Sunport nor local Transportation Security Administration officials have received any guidance from the Department of Homeland Security on how to deal with passengers who do not hold a Real ID compliant driver’s license after the implementation date.”

If you’re planning to fly in January, it may be worth it to bite the bullet and get a passport. Keep in mind that even if you order expedited processing through the post office, you should allow three weeks  for your new passport to arrive in the mail. Standard, un-expedited processing time is at least six weeks.

To get your passport more quickly, you can make an appointment at a regional passport agency. There’s not actually one in New Mexico, but there are locations in El Paso, Texas and in Tucson, Arizona.

A more convenient option for most people is to use an expediting company like RushMyPassport. We walk you through the application process, then hand-deliver your paperwork to the Department of State for the fastest possible processing. If you’re in a hurry to get your passport, contact us today!