Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted deadline extensions for the U.S. states (Louisiana, Michigan and New York) that had pending extensions to comply with the REAL ID Act. These states, along with all other U.S. states/territories which have been granted deadline extensions, will now have until October 10, 2018, to comply and there will be no change in enforcement status until then. This means that for states and territories that are already compliant or non-compliant but received an extension for 2018, their residents can use their existing state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards, even though those IDs might not, within themselves, be REAL ID compliant. During this time, federal agencies (including TSA) will continue to accept driver's license and identification cards issued by these states in accordance with each agency's policies.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The REAL ID Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting, for official purposes, licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. Enforcement of the REAL ID Act was planned in four phases, with implementation of Phase 1 beginning in January 20, 2014. The act has since been enforced in the first three phases and the government has been in the final phase for two years, which addresses boarding commercial aircrafts.

In January 2016, the DHS issued an implementation schedule for Phase 4, stating that starting January 22, 2018, travelers with a driver's license or identification card issued by a state/U.S. territory that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight. With the exceptions of American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands, where extension is still under review, all states/U.S. territories are either now compliant or have been given an extension until October 10, 2018.

Per the DHS, beginning October 11, 2018, the federal government will stop accepting licenses and identification cards from non-compliant states/U.S. territories as ID for domestic air travel and travelers will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification to board their flight. Only travelers with driver's licenses or identification cards issued by a state/U.S. territory that are compliant with REAL ID by October 10, 2018 will be able to use these for domestic air travel. Travelers from compliant states will have until October 1, 2020, to make sure they are carrying REAL ID compliant licenses/IDs. DHS will update their website as these reviews are completed. The table below includes the status of each state/U.S. territory under the REAL ID Act as of January 8, 2018:



Extension Renewed

Under Review Awaiting Extension

States/U.S. Territories

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Alaska, California, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington

American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands

Driver’s License or ID Card Acceptance Status

Federal agencies will accept driver's licenses/IDs from these states/U.S. territories. Travelers from compliant states will have until October 1, 2020, to make sure they are carrying REAL ID compliant licenses/IDs.

Federal agencies will accept driver’s licenses/IDs from these states/U.S. territories until October 10, 2018. After said date, these states will either be compliant or non-compliant.

Federal agencies will accept driver’s licenses/IDs from these U.S. territories until January 22, 2018. If pending extension is not renewed, then after said date, travelers will need to bring an alternative acceptable form of identification to the airport.

The Transportation Security Administration provides a list of all acceptable forms of identification for passengers over the age of 18. As of today, the TSA states the following as acceptable forms of identification:

  • Driver's licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

The official list can be found HERE.

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States.

Click here to view the list of FAQs regarding the REAL ID Act. To view each state/U.S. territory's current compliance status and other various topics involving the REAL ID Act, you can access the Department of Homeland Security’s website by clicking here.