Even if you haven't traveled abroad in a while, you might want to dig up your passport and check its expiration date. Depending on which state you reside in, you might need a passport to fly within US in 2018. The days of flashing your license could be long gone, according to Business Insider, in accordance with the TSA's new REAL ID Act. Hey, think of this less as an annoyance to take care of expiring passports and more as a reason to improve that picture you've had pasted to your travel documents since your awkward phase in high school?
When you're traveling, you obviously want to have the smoothest journey possible. Lugging bags on the bus or train is already quite a workout. You don't want the turbulence to start on the ground when you reach the check-in desk. I once arrived at an airport only to find out that my friend and I were one day early for our flight, perhaps subconsciously anxious to go home. And we had to drag all our stuff back into the city, figure out our lodging for this bonus night, and do it all again the next day. Needless to say, when it comes to traveling, it helps to be prepared. Which is why it's important to be in the know of what's happening with domestic TSA rules and regulations.
So, what's the deal? Due to Department Of Homeland Security guidelines, soon, residents of some states won't be able to use their driver's license to travel domestically from airports in the U.S. But, why?! And what does that all mean?! And how do you know if you're affected by this?!
First things first. Let's get to know the new laws, shall we? It's called the REAL ID Act. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the act, "establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards." Basically, some states issue licenses that no longer adhere to these federal standards — but, passports do. Some states' licenses were already compliant, so they don't have anything to worry about, but (as of Jan. 8, 2018) licenses from 20+ states and U.S. territories are not.
The REAL ID Act was supposed to begin affecting travelers on Jan. 22, 2018, but the states deemed unsatisfactory in accordance with the new law were all granted extensions to review their licenses, so the subject won't have to be revisited until Oct. 10, 2018. And at that point, if the licenses from those states still don't comply with the REAL ID Act, you'll technically need your passport to travel domestically — but, according to Business Insider, residents will have a grace period until 2020, during which time their licenses will still be valid at airports — they will just be reminded of the new laws in place. These states and U.S. territories are as follows, according to the Department of Homeland Security:
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- New York
- Virgin Islands
- Puerto Rico
- Northern Mariana Islands (Currently under review)
- American Samoa (Currently under review)
Thanks to the internet, you can check the specific status of your state through the Department of Homeland Security's website. If your state is compliant, then, congratulations you don't have to rummage around the house to pinpoint wherever that "safe place" for your passport is.
Now you know the details, so you can at least be prepared. This way, all you have to worry about is which of your pants are the most comfortable to fly in, and what the best way to get to your hotel once you've touched down is. Traveling anywhere is a joy, no matter how long the line at security is or how many computer systems are down — and now, at least you'll have the right photo ID on you. That is sure to help you avoid setbacks at the beginning of any trip, making the friendly skies a lot smoother.