Residents In Nine States Could Need A Second Form Of ID To Pass Through Airport Security Next Year

Ten years ago, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which set minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and photo IDs. While the rules haven’t exactly been enforced to the “T” by the Dept. of Homeland Security, that’s poised to change, leaving millions of people in nine states in need of a second form of ID to pass through airport security. 

The New York Times reports that while several of these states have been granted extensions, effectively delaying any application of requirements for a period of time, those deadlines are fast approaching, and the government apparently isn’t keen on providing new extensions.

That’s likely to be an issue for at least nine states, Ars Technica reports. 

The requirements under the Act have been hotly debated in many states, with some claiming the law violates consumers’ privacy, even passing laws barring motor vehicle departments from complying with the law.

Under the standards, licenses are required to be equipped with “machine readable” technology, like a chip or a magnetic strip, to store residents’ personal information, the Times reports.

The information will eventually be shared through a system administered by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, allowing states to access information from other states.

While the federal government can’t force states to adopt identification standards, it can force their hands in other ways, mainly determining that current IDs aren’t sufficient enough to pass through airport security.

If state IDs fail to comply with REAL ID standards, federal agencies can’t accept them as standalone proof of identification. The final phase of the DHS plan is access to commercial aircraft, and according to the agency’s own timeline, full enforcement is due to begin “No sooner than 2016.”

While reports in September put the number of non-compliant states at four, a new report from the AP found that DHS had warned officials in at least nine states that requests for additional extensions would be denied.

Extensions set to expire on January 10, 2016 belong to Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Associated Press reports that while it’s possible last-minute extensions could be granted, officials in Missouri, Illinois, New Mexico, and Washington were already notified that additional time would be denied.

Minnesota and American Samoa were not given extensions this year, meaning residents of those areas might be the first affected if the Transportation Security Administration applies the REAL ID Act starting in 2016.

Several other states —  including New Hampshire and Louisiana — have been granted extensions through mid-2016.

Additionally, New York offers enhanced IDs that are REAL ID compliant, which allowed it to receive an extension until October 2016.

The NYT reports that officials with DHS is working on a timeline for enforcement of the rule at airports. The schedule is expected to be released before the year’s end, but that’s just days away.

DHS said that any announcement would come with a notice of 120 days before starting to enforce the law at airports.

T.S.A. Moves Closer to Rejecting Some State Driver’s Licenses for Travel [The New York Times]
TSA may soon stop accepting drivers’ licenses from nine states [Ars Technica]
Missouri drivers licenses will no longer be acceptable to enter federal facilities [The Associated Press]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.