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The States Where a Driver's License Won't Work for Air Travel Next Year

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 9/5/2017 Cailey Rizzo
© Department of Homeland Security

As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) slowly implements the REAL ID Act of 2005, ID standards will change at airports around the country. This month, the government will expand its outreach program to spread information to travelers about the change.

Effective Jan. 22, 2018, the DHS will no longer accept state-issued IDs from half the country. Travelers from “noncompliant” states will need to show an alternative form of ID, such as a passport, when boarding a plane.

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So far, there are only 25 states with ID standards that meet those set forward by the REAL ID Act. Residents of these 25 states can continue to fly domestically with a driver's license. The remaining states have been given extensions to comply with REAL ID. Travelers can check the most up-to-date status of their individual state’s compliance on the DHS website.

The Department of State is issuing passport books and passport cards for travelers whose states remain noncompliant with the act.

The passport card is an alternative that will allow travelers from noncompliant states to board a domestic flight; it will not be valid for international air travel. Passport cards are the same size as a driver’s license, cost $55 for first time applicants, and $30 for anyone who already has a passport.

It costs $110 to apply for or renew a passport book.

Travelers considering renewing or applying for a passport should do so well in advance of a trip. The Department of State recommends that travelers apply for passports from September through December, when wait times are lower.

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