Every air traveler today is required to present a valid (not expired) form of identification to get though airport security and board a flight. Common forms of ID include driver’s licenses or state photo identification cards, passports, passport cards, DHS trusted traveler cards (ex. Global Entry) and military ID cards.
Effective May 3, 2023, standard state driver’s licenses and identification cards will no longer be accepted. If you currently rely on your driver’s license or state identification card to get through airport security, TAKE NOTE – you will need to apply for a compliant REAL ID through your state’s motor vehicle department. You can find specific details on the DHS REAL ID website (www.dhs.gov/real-id). Due to the pandemic, the original deadline of October 1, 2020 was extended out to May 2023. Give yourself plenty of time to avoid a last minute rush.
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 May 3, 2023 you will need a REAL ID compliant license to gain access to enter 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.
How to identify if you have a compliant REAL ID? Compliant IDs have the “gold star” in the upper right portion of the ID.
ON TO PASSPORTS....
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: Your passport expires February 7, 2023. You have a trip planned in 2022, with a return date of September 17, 2022 from Amsterdam. The Netherlands requires your passport to be valid through March 17, 2023, therefore you will need to renew 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.
There are many reasons to work with a travel advisor – providing timely advice to ensure smooth travels is just one of them.
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder