Traveling without a real ID

Traveling Without Real ID | What You Should Know

Due to the implementation of the Real ID act, the type of ID travelers are required to carry when traveling domestically has changed. Passed by Congress in 2005, the act is meant to reinforce and make the issuance of State IDs more secure. This Federal regulation leaves it to each state individually to adhere to the new mandates. Not every state has accepted the Real ID act, which means that they do not offer you Real IDs when you head to the DMV to renew or obtain a new form of ID. That raises the question: What exactly does this mean for residents of states that don’t offer this new form of identification? It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not even highly problematic. Domestic airline travel will be one of the biggest areas of impact for travelers with regard to possessing a Real ID. 

Previously, a passport was not required to board domestic flights. A domestic flight is any commercial flight that stays within the US. Now, with the implementation of Real ID, access to Federal properties and the ability to board domestic flights will require you to have a Real ID, OR a passport or alternative ID that is approved. 

Traveling without Real ID – What are your options?

If you reside in a state that is Real ID compliant, you’ve got nothing to worry about. You do need to understand that you will have to obtaina Real ID. This means a few things. First, you don’t need to rush out and get your real ID; if you’re in a compliant state, you’re covered until your ID is expired. When it comes time to renew though, you have two options. You can merely renew your basic state issued driver’s license, and that’s perfectly acceptable. (You will need to obtain other forms of ID to travel, but we’ll cover that in a minute). Your other option is upgrading to a Real ID when it’s time to renew. No, you can’t just trade in your old ID for a Real ID when you renew. You’ll be required to pay a one-time fee and submit proof of identity. Once you’ve applied for and received your Real ID, you’re good! This covers you for domestic travel and you won’t need to get a passport if you don’t already have one. 

Alternate ID for travel
Know what types of ID are necessary based on where and how you’re traveling.

What if I live in a state that is not Real ID compliant – Or, what if I don’t want to obtain a Real ID? 

You don’t have to have a Real ID to board a domestic flight. It’s true! You don’t even have to obtain one at all. The downside to not obtaining your Real ID is that you will be required to carry a passport if you want to board any type of commercial domestic flight. This isn’t problematic for many people since more than 113 million U.S. citizensalready hold a passport. That’s more than 36% of U.S. citizensso chances are good, if you’re a frequent flyer you already have your passport. 

If you’re looking at booking a cruise vacation, it’s important to know that a Real ID will not be the only form of ID you’ll need. A Real ID won’t prove your citizenship, but will serve as a driving and photo ID. This only applies to cruise vacations that utilize foreign ports of call. A passport is your best choice for primary ID when planning a cruise vacation. 

Types of ID for Travel

At the end of the day, you aren’t required to obtain a Real ID. In fact, the most secure and most widely accepted form of identification for US citizens remains the U.S. passport. It covers you on domestic and international flights, it allows you to cross all land borders, andit will allow you entrance to Federal facilities and properties. 

Whether you’re looking to update your state issued ID to a Real ID, or you’re attempting to obtain a passport for travel purposes, be sure you’ve checked into travel document regulations for your destinationand you have the appropriate vital records to help you obtain whatever form of ID you need


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