Must you have a Real ID compliant license to fly? No. Valid passports, passport cards, DHS trusted traveler cards and military cards are all acceptable alternatives that can be used in lieu of a driver’s license.
Side note - nothing to do with travel. After October 1, 2020 you will need a Real ID compliant license to gain access to military bases or secure federal facilities. Passports, passport cards and military ids will still be accepted, but if you don’t normally go places locally or within the US with these alternate IDs, you may want to get a compliant driver’s license.
What is the difference between a current driver’s license and the Real ID? Below is an example. Compliant IDs have the “gold star” in the upper right corner.
Did you know that while a passport technically expires on the stated expiration date, if you are travelling internationally, your passport will actually “expire” well prior to that?
Most countries require a passport to be valid six months after your intended return home date. A few countries have shorter requirements, so be sure to check the state department website or country website for details. If your passport expires very close to this cutoff, you should renew prior to your departure.
Example: Passport expires February 7, 2021. You have a trip planned in 2020, with a return date of September 17, 2020 from Amsterdam. Passport must be valid through March 17, 2021, therefore you will need to renew your passport prior to your departure.
It is the responsibility of the traveler to understand these rules. Airlines rarely mention this. Unfortunately many travelers don’t check their passport expiration dates and are unpleasantly surprised at the point of departure, not being allowed to board the aircraft, or even worse, upon arrival, being denied entry into the country and returned home.
Consider yourself warned!
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