Learn what the Real ID act means for people with a Pennsylvania driver's license

PA Driver’s Licenses Not Valid for Airline Travel in 2018

In January 23, 2017

If you’re a frequent traveler, the Real ID act is probably already on your radar. Beginning in January of 2018, residents in a handful of states nationwide will no longer be allowed to fly domestically using their state issued driver’s licenses as ID. Come June 6, 2018, if you’re a Pennsylvania resident your Pennsylvania driver’s license will no longer be a valid form of ID to fly domestically.

What is the Real ID act?

In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID act. Following recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, the Real ID act was put into action; its purpose is re-evaluating and setting higher standards for the issuance of sources of identification. The main focus of the act is on state issued driver’s licenses and their level of security. In order to be Real ID act compliant, each state must follow certain security criteria to allow their residents a more secure form of ID. The act’s primary purpose is to prevent fraudulent ID’s being used in applications where security is a high priority; domestic travel and access to federal facilities are main considerations under this new regulation. For Pennsylvania Driver’s license holders, this means that as of right now your licenses and IDs are considered to be less secure and not up to the Real ID act standards.

What makes a driver’s license Real ID Act compliant?

In order for a Pennsylvania driver’s license to be Real ID act compliant, PA must issue IDs and licenses utilizing anti-counterfeit technology during the application and issuance process. This includes background checks for employees handling the applications and applicants themselves, as well as other identity verification procedures. While some states have updated their processing technology to become compliant, Pennsylvania is unfortunately one state that has not been able to revise its processing to provide a more secure application and issuance protocol.

What other forms of ID will be accepted to board a domestic flight come January 2018?

If you’re from a non-compliant U.S. state, your state driver’s license will no longer grant you access on domestic flights. Here’s a list of acceptable forms of IDs come January of 2018:


  • U.S. passport or U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • 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


What does this mean for people with a Pennsylvania Driver’s License?


If you have a Pennsylvania driver’s license, or a license from any of the other states that aren’t compliant, you’ll need to ensure you’re prepared for domestic air travel by bringing one of the forms of ID listed above. Currently, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation states that being noncompliant with the Real ID act is due to a piece of 2012 legislation barring the commonwealth from participating in the Real ID act. As of January 19th, 2016, federal authorities have granted the state of Pennsylvania an extension on becoming Real ID act compliant. Flying with a PA driver’s license will still be allowed up until June 6, 2018. While this regulation may change by June of 2018, it is important to understand what this means if you plan to fly so you can plan accordingly.


Pennsylvania, you’re not alone! 6 ABC created this great infographic that shows where each state falls in compliance:

Learn if your state is Real ID act compliant

6 ABC shows us where each state falls in compliance with the Real ID act

How we can help.

VitalChek is here to help make this transition as smooth and easy as possible. If you’re from a state that is non-compliant, check out what types of passports are available to get you started on your passport application process. Due to a higher need for passports due to Real ID act non-compliant states, you may want to obtain your passport sooner than later!

Leave A Comment