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Making Sense of the REAL ID Act as Enforcement Deadlines Approach

December 4, 2017 10:16 pm Published by
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This month marks five years since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act, which was passed by congress almost eight years earlier.

The REAL ID Act is an enactment of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government set universal standards for identification, such as driver’s licenses. Essentially, the Act prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes (e.g. boarding aircraft, accessing federal facilities, and entering nuclear power plants) licenses and ID cards from states that don’t meet the new standards.

That said, the REAL ID Act and its enforcement schedule are often met with confusion by travelers and travel managers throughout the country. For companies with travelers from different states, keeping track of the different timelines can be tricky, as each state is working towards or attaining compliance in their own way.

Still, the REAL ID Act is not a topic to be taken lightly. It could have a direct impact on your travels or your travel program once it’s enforced.

How so? Well, for starters, your travelers will need to present an acceptable form of identification, or a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, to board an airplane.

To minimize strain on your travelers and, in turn, on your business, check out the resources and recommendations below.

3 Ways to Stay Ahead of REAL ID Enforcement

1. Familiarize Yourself with the Schedule.

Starting January 22, 2018, travelers who do not have a license from a compliant state or a state that has been granted an extension will be asked to provide alternative acceptable identification (listed here). If they cannot provide an acceptable form of identification, they will not be allowed through the security checkpoint.

By October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.

2. Know Your State’s Status.

Understanding the status of each state for your travelers can be tricky, but it is essential. The map below shows which states are under review, on extension, or compliant as of December 4, 2017 (and to make things even easier we have listed the status of every state below).

Things are constantly changing, so to make sure you have the most accurate information, please refer to the DHS website.

realIDmapPhoto credit: Department of Homeland Security

Alabama: Compliant

Alaska: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

American Samoa: Under review

Arizona: Compliant

Arkansas: Compliant

California: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Colorado: Compliant

Connecticut: Compliant

Delaware: Compliant

District of Columbia: Compliant

Florida: Compliant

Georgia: Compliant

Guam: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Hawaii: Compliant

Idaho: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Illinois: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Indiana: Compliant

Iowa: Compliant

Kansas: Compliant

Kentucky: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Louisiana: Under review

Maine: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Maryland: Compliant

Massachusetts: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Michigan: Under review

Minnesota: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Mississippi: Compliant

Missouri: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Montana: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Nebraska: Compliant

Nevada: Compliant

New Hampshire: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

New Jersey: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

New Mexico: Compliant

New York: Under review

North Carolina: Compliant

North Dakota: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Northern Mariana Islands: Under review

Ohio: Compliant

Oklahoma: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Oregon: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Pennsylvania: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

Puerto Rico: Under review

Rhode Island: Under review

South Carolina: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

South Dakota: Compliant

Tennessee: Compliant

Texas: Compliant

Utah: Compliant

Vermont: Compliant

Virginia: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

U.S. Virgin Islands: Under review

Washington: Extension valid through October 10, 2018

West Virginia: Compliant

Wisconsin: Compliant

Wyoming: Compliant

3. Get a REAL ID Driver’s License Sooner Rather than Later.

Even if your state currently has an extension and there’s not a run on the DMV, it’s much better to be proactive. If you take steps to get your REAL ID driver’s license sooner, rather than later, you can avoid the headache and stress of rushing out to get a new license (or renewing it online) right before a scheduled trip.

Some states, who are anticipating compliance, are urging customers to begin gathering their required documents for the application process. For a full list of these documents, check your state’s DMV website.

If your state isn’t quite REAL ID ready, have your passport or alternative identification on-hand to show at the airport.

Questions, comments, or concerns? Drop us a line below.

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This post was written by Tiffany Zerby


  • Patty Altieri says:

    How would one know if their license is REAL compliant or not?

    • Tiffany Zerby says:

      Hi Patty,
      Thanks for your comment! If your issuing state is not yet compliant, you can assume that your driver’s license is not REAL ID compliant either. If your state is compliant, an easy way to check is to look at your license and see if it’s marked with a gold star in the top right-hand corner. Most REAL ID driver’s licenses have this gold star, as well as a magnetic strip (barcode) on the back that contains information regarding the owner of the ID card.
      Hope it helps!

  • Mary says:

    What does the term “Under Review” mean? Is that a state that has submitted and this is the step before approval?

    • Tiffany Zerby says:

      Hi Mary,
      Great question. “Under Review” essentially means that DHS is currently reviewing the state’s request for an extension. DHS will update the state’s status on their website here as the review is completed. If you have any additional questions just let me know.

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