In December of 2016, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that, beginning January 2018, it will begin its REAL ID program in airports throughout the country. This program will prevent travelers from using non-compliant state-issued identification cards and driver’s licenses as means of identification to proceed through security check points. The REAL ID act was passed by Congress in 2005 to establish minimum security standards for state-issued identification cards and driver’s licenses.
The REAL ID’s must include the following information, along with specific security features that are intended to prevent fraud, counterfeiting, and tampering.
- Full legal name
- Date of birth
- Unique identifying number
- Principal residence address
- Front-facing photograph of the applicant
Such requirements are a significant upgrade from previous federal standards for identification documents. These specific security measures are designed to present machine-readable data from multiple sources on the ID to ensure maximum security.
The implementation program by the TSA has taken place in four (4) phases, beginning with prohibiting use of such IDs in restricted areas and ending with prohibiting all non-compliant IDs from boarding federally regulated aircrafts. With the last three (3) phases occurring over the previous 3-4 years, 2018 has been designated to begin the air travel phase of the program. This phased roll-out of the program was intended to encourage states to upgrade their licenses security measures to become compliant with the federal standards. However, with some states resisting a full ID makeover, the TSA has given travelers a list of alternative compliant forms of identification as seen below.
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
- Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs - Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization - Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
Kentucky driver’s licenses are currently non-compliant with the REAL ID security specifications. Kentucky was granted an extension for REAL ID enforcement until October 10, 2018, allowing federal agencies to accept Kentucky driver’s licenses until that time. However, given this major change in the identification security protocols, Kentucky travelers may want to get their passports updated before heading into the new year.