As Family Vacation Critic first reported in late September (Will Passports Be Required at the Airport?, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it may stop accepting driver’s licenses as a form of identification. Originally, the TSA hinted that Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York would be the first airports to require the use of REAL IDs. Today, they have also added in Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina and Washington, as well as U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
The DHS’s request for REAL IDs began following 9/11, which made it more difficult to create fake driver’s licenses. However, some states did not meet the REAL ID requirements, stating privacy concerns. The DHS has allowed for extensions to the REAL ID requirements by January 10, 2016. If the aforementioned states do not comply, the DHS will no longer accept drivers licenses from these states as a form of identification at the airport. Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota and Washington have already been denied further extensions.
However, the DHS has not announced an official ban on driver’s licenses and has promised the public will have 120 days’ notice before demanding new identification. Passports will be accepted at all airports as a proper form of identification under the REAL ID category. If you live in one or travel to one of the aforementioned states, or are planning to travel to the U.S. territory islands in the near future, securing and carrying a passport early may be a wise choice.
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