Now you can’t say you weren’t warned.
Signs are sprouting up at many airports to alert travelers that beginning Jan. 22, 2018, the Transportation Security Administration will begin strict enforcement of the REAL ID requirements at airport security checkpoints.
That means that, a year from now, passengers presenting a driver’s license or identification card from a state where those documents don’t meet the REAL ID Act’s minimum security standards — and where extensions to meet those requirements have not been granted — may be turned away.
As it does now, TSA will continue to accept alternate forms of ID at airports, such as a passport, military ID or permanent resident card. But next year, driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards from the nine states that don’t yet have REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and IDs — Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington — won’t be accepted.
The Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with enforcing the REAL ID Act for air travel (and already does so for federal facilities and nuclear power plants), said in a statement that it continues working with states to “encourage compliance” and that TSA will update the signs in airports “if and when states that are currently listed receive extensions.”
Enacted by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act established minimum security standards for state-issued IDs and requires them to include a person’ full legal names, birth date, gender, address, signature, an ID number, a photo and a security feature such as a bar code or a hologram.
While DHS emphasizes that REAL ID “is a national set of standards, not a national identification card,” opponents argue that the act creates a national identity card and allows the federal government to gather and store too much personal information. Citing costs and other issues associated with implementing the standards, many states have opposed the REAL ID Act as well.
But after numerous extensions and postponements, last January Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson set Jan. 22, 2018 as the day driver’s licenses or identification cards issued by states must meet the REAL ID Act or have negotiated extension in place.
Harriet Baskas, Special for USA TODAY