Passport Required for Domestic Air Travel [January 22nd 2018]
If you’re a legal resident of the United States, you may be under the assumption that you do NOT need a passport to travel so long as you have no plans on actually leaving the country. In the past you would be absolutely correct, but as of 2018 you’re definitely going to want to double check things before you head off to the airport. After an extension of The Real ID Act expired on October 10, 2017, residents in some states may need a passport to travel – regardless of whether or not they’re taking an international trip – as of January 22, 2018.
The Real ID Act: What Is Going On?
The Real ID Act of 2005 is a piece of legislation that insisted that state-issued IDs and similar forms of identification are more than adequate to meet the minimum security standards now set by the United States federal government. The problem is that the act itself had an extension that expired on October 10, 2017, meaning that it is no longer valid and could pose significant travel issues depending on where you live and where you might be headed.
As of January 9, 2018, the following states had Real ID Act extensions that expired in October:
- South Carolina
In order to get past a TSA security checkpoint at an airport in any of these states, another form of identification will likely be required beyond your state-issued ID. This means that you’ll need a passport, a permanent resident card/green card or a valid military ID. This is true for ANY commercial flight that you may be taking.
It’s important to note that all of the aforementioned non-compliant states are currently under review for any possible extensions that they may qualify for. Virginia was recently in a similar situation, for example, and their extension was recently renewed and is now valid until October 10, 2018.
Equally important to note is that all of this information could change at absolutely any moment. But if things stay the way they are right now, you will need a passport or similar form of identification to take any commercial flight – whether international or domestic – when the current grace period expires on January 22, 2018. If you do not currently have a valid United States passport, now would be an excellent time to get this issue taken care of.
On the subject of getting your passport, it’s important that you do have a number of viable options in terms of getting your document in your possession as quickly as possible. Expedited passport services are likely available in your area that can collect and submit all necessary documents on your behalf, cutting the processing time down from the standard six to eight weeks (or longer, depending on the time of year) to 24 to 48 hours depending on where in the country you currently live.