The REAL ID Act will be fully in effect on October 1, 2021. Every US air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a compliant ID to fly within the United States. Compliant IDs include a valid passport book or passport card, compliant state-issued ID, enhanced drivers license, certain traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST), US military ID, Permanent resident card, Border crossing card, Tribal photo ID, HSPD-12 PIV card, Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card, and Transportation worker identification credential.

How to Check REAL ID Compliance

REAL ID-compliant documents are marked with a star at the top of the card. Even if your state is now issuing compliant drivers licenses, you need to have the updated REAL ID-compliant ID. The Department of Homeland Security is now reporting 47 out of 50 states as currently REAL ID compliant. But unfortunately, only 27% of Americans actually have a REAL ID at this time. Click the map below to visit the Department of Homeland Security website to verify the compliance of your ID.

REAL id act passport compliance

The REAL ID Act Passport Requirements

What is the REAL ID Act? Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005. The 9/11 Commission recommended that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act set standard security requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. It also prohibits Federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.  Without a REAL ID Act Compliant ID, you cannot do the following:

  • Access Federal facilities
  • Board federally regulated commercial aircraft
  • Enter nuclear power plants

While many states are now compliant, many travelers do not have an updated ID that is compliant. However, your US Passport is a federally-recognized ID and can be used for travel anywhere in America and across the globe. The passport card is only valid for domestic flights, and for travel by land and sea to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. If your destination is outside of the US, you’ll need a passport book.

For more on the differences, see Passports vs Passport Cards.

Enhanced drivers licenses

Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue REAL ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which are acceptable. Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only.

State-issued enhanced driver’s licenses are marked with a flag. These documents will be accepted at the airport security checkpoint when the REAL ID enforcement goes into effect.

Do you need a passport for domestic flights? No, but you do need a valid ID and your driver’s license may no longer be acceptable. The Real ID Act is in full effect and most states now issue compliant IDs. But that doesn’t mean your current drivers license is valid for domestic air travel. You may need to update your ID or get a passport in order to fly within the USA.

How to Get a Passport

The passport type and processing speed will impact the costs to get a passport as well as the steps to get one. Routine passport processing takes 6-8 weeks. If you need your passport sooner, we can help!

RushMyPassport can expedite your passport in as little as one business day. We help you prepare the required documents and prevent common mistakes that will delay your passport processing. You’ll also avoid the slow processing times and can choose speeds from 2 weeks to as fast as 1 business day. Get your passport started today! Don’t let the REAL ID Act passport issue cost you an upcoming trip.