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If you plan on using any American airport after September of 2020, you’ll need a REAL ID to do so. Beginning October 1, 2020, passengers without a valid REAL ID will not clear TSA screening areas in airports. The requirements for the REAL ID were passed by Congress in 2005 as a post-9/11 measure to make our air travel safer. Fifteen years later, those requirements will finally be enforced.

Although it took more than a decade to implement nationwide requirements for the REAL ID, other improvements, such as TSA pre-check, have already been made for safer air travel. In fact, some people are arguing that those programs made air travel even more secure than the REAL ID ever could. The U.S. Travel Association has been talking with federal authorities to try to get them to consider membership in those programs to stand as a substitute for having a REAL ID. But even if you’re a member in one of those programs, get a REAL ID as soon as you can in case federal authorities decide membership alone is not enough.

Check to See Whether Your ID Is Compliant

To see if your driver’s license is a REAL ID, check the upper right-hand corner. If there’s a star or a symbol incorporating a star, you have a REAL ID.

Some states have been issuing driver’s licenses that are compliant with REAL ID standards for years, but a few states have yet to issue driver’s licenses and state ID cards that comply with the REAL ID regulations. Check to see if your state is compliant; as of November 2019, 47 states are compliant. But even if your state is compliant, not all states make people get a REAL ID license (Illinois, for example, lets residents choose between a regular driver’s license and a REAL ID license), so don’t assume that your license is a REAL ID just because your state is compliant.

Illinois state issued REAL ID

Figure 1: “Illinois state issued REAL ID.” REAL ID, Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, realid.ilsos.gov/.

What About Kids?

Children under 18 are exempt from the REAL ID rules. Adults traveling with them, however, will need a valid form of ID.
Get Ready for Some Delays

Despite efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to get the word out about the REAL ID, only 27% of Americans have a REAL ID, and studies show that only 57% of Americans are aware there’s a deadline looming to get one. If nothing changes, there will be long delays at airports as passengers discover their driver’s licenses don’t meet the requirements to board a plane.

So if you’re planning on flying in October of 2020, right after the requirement for the REAL ID goes into effect, plan on giving yourself extra time to get through security because you’re going to need it.

What Do I Need for a Real ID?

You’ll need to prove your identity, date of birth, and either US citizenship or lawful status. You’ll also need proof of your Social Security Number. Most states will also require you to prove that you live where you say you live. So long as your name matches across all documents you use, getting a REAL ID involves no more hassle than the usual hassle of going to your local DMV.

What Else is a REAL ID?

If you don’t have a US driver’s license that’s compliant with the REAL ID standards, a US passport or US passport card, or a passport issued by a foreign government will also be accepted. As of November 2019, these other forms of ID are being accepted and may not be impacted by the REAL ID requirement:

  1. Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  2. DHS trusted traveler card (FAST, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI)
  3. US Department of Defense ID (this includes IDs issued to dependents)
  4. Permanent resident card
  5. Border crossing card
  6. State-Issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  7. Federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID
  8. HSPD-12 PIV card
  9. Transportation worker identification credential
  10. US Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  11. US Merchant Mariner Credential

If you have questions about the REAL ID visit the Department of Homeland Security FAQ to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How soon will points be added to my account?

Points are added within 48 hours after you exit the facility.

How can I update my credit card?

Log in to your Frequent Parker account and select the Express Pass tab. The web page that opens gives you the option to edit your payment information. After entering the new information click save the changes.

I made a reservation, then signed up for the Frequent Parker card, can I add the reservation to my account?

Yes. Log in to your Frequent Parker account. On the Account Information page, please click Associate Reservation with My Account. The information on your reservation receipt is all you need.

More FAQs


About Preflight
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