Travel Tip Tuesday: Reminder: REAL ID Deadline Extended but Coming Quickly!

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has mandated that U.S. travelers be REAL ID-compliant by May 3, 2023 to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities. That deadline may seem far away. However, as your travel advisor, part of my role and ethical obligation is to anticipate your travel needs & requirements, such as passports, vaccinations, and so on. The REAL ID is one of those requirements.

Free Basic Travel Requirements on Red Background  Stock Photo
Courtesy visionart.av

The federal REAL ID program is intended to set national standards for state-issued identification cards, like driver’s licenses and non-driver IDs. The REAL ID Act, passed in 2005, established minimum security standards for license issuance. The purposes covered by the Act include accessing federal facilities and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

When the REAL ID Act is fully implemented—as of this posting date, scheduled for May 3, 2023—U.S. citizens and residents will need to show a REAL ID-compliant document to go through TSA security at the airport or to enter secure federal buildings. The REAL ID is available to both U.S. citizens and to legal U.S. alien residents. The Act does not require individuals to present identification where it is not currently required to access a federal facility (such as to enter the public areas of the Smithsonian Museum). Note that REAL ID cards cannot be used for border crossings into Canada, Mexico, or other international travel.

Why should you be concerned with the REAL ID card right now?

DHS extended the enforcement of the REAL ID Act until May 3, 2023 due to the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the temporary closure of many states’ departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) and registries of motor vehicles (RMVs). So, they needed additional time to catch up. That means you should use this time to become REAL ID-compliant. To assist you clients to determine if they are REAL ID-ready, you can use this interactive tool provided by DHS.

While this is not as exciting as discovering a new, invigorating destination, this information prepares you to do what you do best—ensure that your vacations have no hiccups. So, take the time to educate yourself on the process to renew or convert to the REAL ID as soon as possible.

What do you need to know about an EDL (Enhanced Driver’s License)?

Free People Walking Inside Building Stock Photo
Airport Courtesy Chait Goli

An enhanced driver’s license (EDL) is a state-issued driver’s license with a few extra perks. The EDL is similar to a passport card in that it provides proof of identification and U.S. citizenship. It allows travelers to re-enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. 

An EDL is accepted only at land and sea border crossings internationally—it is not for air travel. It also contains radio-frequency microchipping that uniquely identifies travelers in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) databases, which should promote a more expeditious cross. 

Not all U.S. states (or Canadian provinces) issue EDLs—yet. The best way to find out if a state offers an EDL is to contact its motor vehicle agency.

“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority. As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the REAL ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.”

Secretary Mayorkas

If your ID is not REAL ID-compliant, you will need to present a different form of ID, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) agents to board a plane. If you don’t have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification or any other acceptable form of ID, you won’t be allowed to fly. For real. TSA and DHS are not joking around with this.

Free People Inside Building Stock Photo
Photo courtesy of Naim Benjelloun

To get a REAL ID, you must go to your state’s driver’s license agency (aka the Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV) and bring documentation that proves who you are and where you live. Check with your DMV to be sure you bring the right things before you go. Many DMV websites have checklists for you to follow.

For example, if you got married and your current last name is different than the one on your birth certificate, you should bring:

  • U.S. birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • W2 with your current name and social security number
  • Valid driver’s license with current address

All U.S. states and territories, except for American Samoa, are now issuing REAL IDs.

Travelers without a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card by May 2, 2023 can still fly domestically, but they must have a valid passport to board the plane. But anyone planning to travel in the U.S. should just go get one so you don’t have to think about REAL ID anymore.

Ready to plan your next vacation or getaway?

If so, Easy Breezy Journeys is here to make it easy for you! Just click HERE to get started!

Free Silhouette of Trees during Golden Hour Stock Photo
Courtesy Pixabay on Pexels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *