REAL ID regulations to be enforced next year

This year’s holiday travels may not be different compared to past years for most people, but next year could be an entirely different Christmas story.

The REAL ID Act, passed by the U.S. congress back in 2005, has an enforcement deadline of Oct. 1, 2020, which is approaching. According to the requirements of the act, any person wishing to board a commercial aircraft must obtain a REAL ID compliant card or possess an acceptable alternative, like a passport, according to Homeland Security. People without the new ID cannot enter into a federal facility or military base that requires proof of identification and nuclear power plants.

A REAL ID compliant card is most commonly obtained through a new license that has a star marking on it, to signify its official status. As of September, 2019, all 50 states are compliant with the REAL ID requirement and are all required to start issuing the REAL ID by the enforcement deadline.

Because attaining a REAL ID can be accomplished locally, the hope is that information about the necessity of the REAL ID for air travel will be widespread enough that there will be minimal issues when the act is enacted next year. However, the new security requirements will pose a problem for anyone who does not attain one in time for their travels after the enforcement deadline.

“After Oct. 1, 2020, individuals who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the Transportation Security Association airport checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly,” said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Spokesperson Craig Yetter. “You’ll need your passport for international travel, and you can use your passport to verify your identity at the TSA checkpoint instead of a REAL ID-compliant state-issued driver’s license. If you plan to present your state driver’s license to verify your identity at the TSA checkpoint, that card must be REAL ID compliant.”

In order to attain a REAL ID, a person must provide proof of identity, such as a Certified Birth Certificate or U.S. Passport, their Social Security card, legal documentation of any name changes and two proofs of physical address, according to PennDOT. DMV staff must verify the documents and attain images of them.

Due to these requirements, the REAL ID will provide better identification and travel security, fulfilling the purpose of the act.

“There are also electronic verification checks that must take place prior to the issuance of a REAL ID,” Yetter said. “With all of the verifications and imaging of documents, what the REAL ID is essentially trying to accomplish is that, when using your driver’s license or identification card for federal purposes, your identity has been validated and verified.”

As of this month, PennDOT has issued 529,814 REAL ID-compliant licenses and ID cards since they began to do so in March, according to PennDOT. It is estimated that a total of 1.3 million more people will attain the REAL ID prior to the deadline. 

REAL ID-compliant licenses are not required in Pennsylvania. So, those who are not planning to travel by plane any time in the next few years can choose not to get one.

“PennDOT has deployed a comprehensive media campaign to ensure customers can make an informed decision,” Yetter said. “We encourage customers interested in obtaining a REAL ID to visit our website, make sure they have the needed documents and apply, sooner rather than later, to obtain their REAL ID.”

For more information and to pre-verify online, visit the PennDOT web page dedicated to answering questions about the REAL ID.