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The TSA has started a public campaign to encourage travelers to get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or other acceptable form of identification, to fly within the US by October 1, 2020. Those who try to travel without an approved REAL ID will not be allowed to pass through TSA checkpoints to catch their flights.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 after a 9/11 Commission recommendation that the federal government create a set of standards for IDs such as driver’s licenses. But the act was controversial, since opponents said it was tantamount to requiring a national ID card, which they argued was a violation of the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which notes that powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people.

 

 

By 2017, only 25 states had implemented Real ID, with others passing laws to prohibit implementation of the act. The Montana legislature went as far as passing a 2007 law against the Real ID Act over concerns about documents to prove identity and an overreach by the federal government. However, in January 2018, the Department of Homeland Security warned travelers who didn’t have a license from a compliant state or lived in a state that was granted an extension “will be asked to provide alternate acceptable identification.” If they couldn’t provide an alternative ID, they wouldn’t be allowed past airport security checkpoints, which pushed states to implement the program.

Four states — Maine, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Oregon — along with American Samoa have an extension to implement Real ID by the October 2020 date. “The security requirements of the REAL ID Act are an important step in enhancing commercial aviation security,” said TSA Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell in a statement. “REAL ID implementation is a little more than a year away — now is the time to prepare.”

Travelers may have noticed more signs in airports reminding them of the October 1, 2020, date, along with naming other acceptable forms of ID, such as a valid passport, a federal government personal identity verification (PIV) card or a U.S. military ID. In an interview with TSA officials last week, they told TPG that officers at ID-checking podium are also engaging passengers, asking if they realize they don’t have a Real ID. REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top right side of the card. If you’re not sure if your state is compliant, contact your driver’s license agency.

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