Get Real ID to fly in the U.S. in 2020
The final Real ID deadline is fast approaching for U.S. citizens and resident aliens who need or want to travel domestically by air. Starting on October 1, 2020, U.S. citizens and resident aliens will be required to show Real ID compliant identification to fly within the U.S. That’s just eighteen months away.
In 2005, acting on recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, Congress enacted the Real ID Act. The law established the minimum security standards for driver’s licenses and other identification cards issued by U.S. states and territories in order to increase the security of federal facilities and U.S. domestic air travel.
Obtaining Real ID
To obtain a Real ID compliant identification, applicants in each state must prove who they are via a variety of information including birth date, birthplace, citizenship, legal status, Social Security number and residence documentation.
In states like Pennsylvania, two different types of driver’s licenses and nondriver’s IDs are being issued: Standard-Issue and Real ID Compliant. Real ID compliant identification isn’t needed to drive, vote, access hospitals, the U.S. Post Office, federal courts, Social Security offices or veteran’s services facilities. Real ID compliant identification will be required to enter the secure areas of U.S. commercial airports and board U.S. domestic commercial flights after October 1, 2020. Real ID compliant identification will be required to enter federal facilities such as military bases and power plants.
At this time, 41 states and U.S. territories, plus the District of Columbia, are compliant with the Real ID law. Many old driver’s licenses and nondriver’s identification in those states are likely not compliant IDs. The other states and territories were given extensions and are well on their way to being compliant. Some states on the list, such as Pennsylvania, are compliant but are awaiting certification of compliance.
For most U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, obtaining a Real ID compliant state driver’s license or nondriver’s ID won’t be difficult. For some, however, significant difficulties may interfere with their ability to obtain the new Real ID compliant identification, preventing them from flying domestically in the U.S. in late 2020.
Proof of identity and lawful status
The primary, potential problem for some Americans will be obtaining proof of their identity and lawful status. If you’re a U.S. citizen, for example, you have to prove it. If you have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, you’re set. In fact, if you don’t mind using them, you don’t have to obtain a Real ID compliant state driver’s license or nondriver’s ID, as either your passport or passport card will suffice to fly domestically.
Among those who may have problems obtaining proof of identity and lawful status are Latinos born in the Southwest who were delivered by midwives. Many Latinos have been rebuffed over and over again by the U.S. Department of State in their effort to obtain a U.S. passport. Their problem has chiefly come from convictions of midwives in South Texas who fraudulently registered some foreign births as births in the U.S. That’s despite most midwife-assisted births having been legitimately reported as U.S. births. These Americans have been forced to go to extraordinary lengths to prove their U.S. citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport.
Real ID compliant identification requires the same proof of citizenship as passports and passport cards for U.S. citizens. Citizens born in the U.S. need a state- or territory-issued birth certificate with a raised seal unless they already have another Real ID complaint identification. Hospital or midwifery birth certificates aren’t accepted.
For Real ID start now. It takes time.
For those born in the U.S. who don’t already have a Real ID compliant identification, such as a U.S. passport, and who can’t obtain a state- or territory-issued birth certificate, obtaining Real ID complaint identification, necessary to be able to fly domestically in the U.S. for business or pleasure in the future, will be extremely difficult. With just about eighteen months to go, embark on obtaining the necessary proof of citizenship immediately.
In addition to proof of identity and lawful status, applicants for Real ID compliant identification need a Social Security card. This can pose a problem for those whose name has changed since their card was issued. The name on the Social Security card must match the name on the proof of identity and lawful status. Getting a new card from the Social Security Administration isn’t difficult, but it takes a bit of time.
With such a short time to go, even if your state or territory is one of the few still not able to issue Real ID complaint identification, start accumulating the documents you’ll need to be able to get a Real ID. For some Americans, it may take time to accumulate them. If you need a birth certificate, get it now. If you can’t get one, contact your state and ask what other documents and information will suffice. If you need a new Social Security card, order it now.
If you have what you need to obtain a Real ID compliant ID for your U.S. domestic air travel, there’s no time like the present. I got mine last week.
After many years working in corporate America as a chemical engineer, executive and eventually CFO of a multinational manufacturer, Ned founded a tech consulting company and later restarted NSL Photography, his photography business. As a well known corporate, travel and wildlife photographer, Ned travels the world writing about travel and photography, as well as running photography workshops, seminars and photowalks. Visit Ned’s Photography Blog and Galleries.