Air passengers across the U.S. benefit from the use of driver’s licenses as authoritative identification when travelling domestically but that looks set to soon change. U.S. citizens from New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Louisiana and New Hampshire or American Samoa will no longer be allowed to fly any airline using their driver’s license.
Beginning 2016, travelers from the five U.S. states will not be allowed to use their driver’s licenses to identify themselves aboard aircrafts. This is because the standard driver’s licenses from the five states are considered “non compliant” with security standards set out in the Real ID Act.
The Real ID Act was passed by Congress back in 2005 and set the standard for issuance of sources of identification, including driver’s licenses. The Act established minimum security standards for the issuance of and production of identification documents. The Act also prohibited federal agencies from accepting identification documents not meeting the minimum standards prescribed by it.
The new regulations issued by the Transport Security Administration (TSA) will only allow a driver’s license identification if it is accompanied by an acceptable form of identification such as permanent resident cards, DHS trusted traveler cards like the Global Entry and U.S. military IDs.
The TSA will also accept enhanced driver’s licenses such as the type used to replace travel passports for travel to or from Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.
The ban, whose exact date of commencing has not been given, will bring air passage among these states to a grinding halt for the 38 per cent of Americans who do not have passports. Relief has only been given in the form of a three month forgiveness period where citizens with the “non compliant” licenses will be warned that they were no longer valid.
Previously, U.S. citizens did not require a passport to travel between states. Even citizens travelling outside the continent to Hawaii and Alaska did not require a passport as their driver’s licenses were valid forms of identification. Passports were only necessary for travel to foreign countries.
The new regulations will indefinitely halt travel plans for U.S. citizens in the five states with no passports. Even more inconveniencing for them will be the process of applying for a passport which can be quite tedious.