This article was originally published January 31, 2020 and UPDATED 4/16/2020
I have been posting that Real ID's will be required for a while now. But 2020 always seemed so far away! Well, 2020 is here and October WAS the deadline to get a Real ID in order to fly domestically without a passport. In the face of the Covid 19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline by one year to October 1, 2021.
What's the Buzz about REAL ID?
The 9/11 Commission recommended that the government set security standards for state drivers licenses. In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID ACT, setting standards requiring anyone wishing to:
Although the Act was passed in 2005, the government put this into action in phases, with the final phases that affect the most people just coming up now.
In OCTOBER of 2021, everyone will need to have a compliant Real ID to fly domestically aboard a commercial plane.
If you don't want this type of drivers license, you may fly domestically with your passport. (note: a passport is still required for international travel)
How Do I Get A Real ID?
In order to obtain a Real ID you must go to your DMV with proof of the following information:
Sounds simple, right? Not so fast… especially if you live in New York (or MI, MN, VT, or WA)
Ok, so you know you need a Real ID, you live in NY and visit the DMV and they ask you, "Would you like the Real ID or the Enhanced ID"?
Wait, Enhanced?!? I just got caught up with Real ID!
According to dhs.gov, "State-issued Enhanced Drivers Licenses (EDLs) provide proof of identity and U.S. citizenship, are issued in a secure process, and include technology that makes travel easier." LOL, easier they say, ha!
What is an Enhanced Drivers License?
An Enhanced Drivers License is offered in 5 states: Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington The purpose of this type of ID was to make border crossings in Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean by land or sea easier. This ID provides proof of identity and citizenship when exiting and re-entering the United States borders.
Enhanced ID's are also Real ID compliant.
So essentially, it includes the Real ID requirements, plus some. I got one because I travel frequently by land, air and sea and I wanted to cover all bases.
Here's where the problems arise:
TSA workers are given a sheet with pictures of compliant ID's. The information they are looking for is the picture of a star in the upper right corner of the license. They even launched a campaign #checkforthestar. This is great, EXCEPT if you have an Enhanced ID, where there is NO STAR. Instead, the Enhanced ID's have an American flag (see photo below). The important thing to remember is that the Enhanced ID IS INDEED REAL ID COMPLIANT.
I frequently travel to Florida with my Enhanced license and for the past year, every time I've traveled, the TSA lady at the airport tells me I only have until October to get the right ID or I won't be permitted to fly. I have tried to explain to her that I have a NY State Enhanced license, it doesn't have a star but is, in fact, compliant - but she says, "no star, no fly" and she is the one who can deny me the right to proceed!
Hey Enhanced license holders - our hashtag needs to be #checkforthestarORFLAG!
Do you have the REAL ID or the ENHANCED ID? What has your experience been?
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