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REAL ID deadline to fly in US a year away, millions of Americans may be unprepared

By October 2020, it will be a requirement to have a REAL ID to access all federal facilities and airports. (US Marines/Released)

In 364 days, millions of Americans may not have a proper form of identification to fly commercially in the U.S., as the deadline to have a REAL ID begins Oct. 1, 2020.

Flyers must have a REAL ID — a driver’s license that meets minimum security requirements determined by the REAL ID Act passed in 2005 — or other approved identification like a state-issued enhanced driver’s license, passport or military ID to board commercial flights in the U.S. by next year’s deadline.

Millions of Americans currently do not have a REAL ID, and may be unprepared if they do not obtain an ID that meets requirements in the next year.

Only 27% of Americans currently have a REAL ID, according to the Department of Homeland Security. REAL ID’s are generally marked by a star or star cutout shape in either gold or black on the corner of a driver’s license.

An estimated 99 million Americans, or around 39%, said they do not currently have a form of ID that would be accepted to fly commercially beginning in October next year, according to a survey report from the U.S. Travel Association. Only 43% of Americans surveyed were aware that they needed to have a REAL-ID compliant document at TSA checkpoints by the deadline.

Although requirements may vary state-to-state, at a minimum people must provide documentation that includes a person’s full legal name, date of birth, social security number, two proofs of principal residence address and lawful status to obtain a REAL ID.

Several states, including New York, Michigan, Vermont and Minnesota, issue both REAL ID’s and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses. Washington state only issues enhanced driver’s licenses, but both those and REAL ID’s will be accepted as identification for commercial travel.

An estimated 78,500 travelers could be turned away on the first day of the REAL ID requirement if it were implemented today, the survey from the U.S. Travel Association found.

With the deadline a year away, the DHS reminded travelers of the upcoming change.

“Individuals who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly,” the DHS said in a statement.

Minors traveling with a companion will not be required to have a driver’s license or other identification card, however a companion will need the proper identification, the DHS said.

The REAL ID Act implemented the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation for the federal government to uphold standards on ID requirements for official and federal purposes, including security checkpoints at airports, federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

“This is an important step in enhancing commercial aviation security and we urge travelers to ensure they have compliant documents,” said Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan. “DHS is committed to working with states as they continue their efforts to issue REAL IDs to Americans.”

A list of common questions and requirements is available on the DHS’s website.


© 2019 New York Daily News