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Everything you need to know about Real ID 6 November 12

Posted by Jonathan V. Phillips in Passport, Passport Card, traveler advise.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Real ID

Real ID is legislation passed by Congress and  signed into law by President Bush in 2005. The legislation is officially known as the REAL ID Act of 2005. Officially, it is Division B of an act of the United States Congress titled Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief. Basically, the law stipulates that entry on to domestic flights as well as federal installations and other secure locations requiring an ID to enter, is dependent on the individual possessing and demonstrating a photo ID that is up to the standards and specifications outlined in the statute. It provides a timetable for the states to implement these standards on their driver’s licenses and ID cards. For those that like to look at the actual text of the statute, the Department of Homeland Security, who has regulatory authority over the law, has it online for your reading pleasure.

The deadline for compliance is coming. Beginning on fifteenth of January 2013, an ID that is compliant with the Real ID guidelines will be required of passengers as a prerequisite to boarding  domestic flights in the US. Although the DHS has extended the deadline in the past, they have indicated that there are committed to the January date and that will be no more extensions. On January 15 agents of the TSA will be enforcing the law at airports around the country.

The Real ID Act lists the forms of ID that are considered in compliance and hence acceptable for entrance onto an airplane. The TSA, who will be checking the ids at airports has a list of what they will accept.

List of TSA Acceptable Real IDs

  • a U.S. passport,
  • a U.S. passport card,
  • a DHS “Trusted Traveler” cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST),
  • a U.S. Military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DOD civilians),
  • a U.S. Permanent Resident Card,
  • a Border Crossing Card
  • a DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • a Drivers Licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (beginning January 15, 2013, these must be Real ID compliant licenses)
  • a Native American Tribal Photo ID
  • an airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • a valid foreign government-issued passport
  • a Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) card
  • a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)

Passports and Passport Cards

It is no surprise  that a passport is the first item mentioned  on the DHS list of acceptable IDs. Being not just a federally issued identity document, a passport is also a citizenship document. IDs issued from the individual states have to meet the criteria laid out by the federal government in order to be accepted as a valid real ID, whereas a passport is issued by the federal government through the Department of State and actually sets the standard for secure identification.

Most people know what a passport is but are unaware of the existence or the specifics surrounding the US passport card. Passport cards are a relatively new form of federal identification that can be used in place of a passport for international travel in certain cases.  The State Department Passport Card FAQ answers most of the questions regarding what it takes to get one, and when you can use one to travel internationally and other attributes of the new form of federal ID.

Information on the issuance of expedited passports and passport cards is available through the passport section of the g3visas.com website. Applicants can apply for new passports, add pages to filled booklets and  renew expiring ones  in 24 hours, if required.

Passport questions and inquiries into  professional passport expedite services can be directed to passports@g3visas.com .

Real ID Drivers Licenses, What You Need to Get One

The DHS has published the criteria for the states that define what documents applicants will need provide to the state DMV in order to have these IDs and driver’s licenses  considered as valid “real IDs” and hence in compliance with the law and valid for travel. Applicants for Real ID compliant IDs will have to prove they are eligible for one. They will have to submit to their DMV  official documents to satisfy each of the following four categories,

  • Identity and Date of Birth
  • Lawful Status in the United States
  • Social Security Card
  • State Residency and Current Address

Proof of Identity, Date of Birth and Lawful Status

This proof comes in the form of one of the following,

For US Citizens:

  • a valid US passport or passport card,
  • a certified copy or original US birth certificate. These documents include official, certificates issued by any US state also including Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Hospital issued birth certificates are not acceptable and Puerto Rican certificates must be certified on or after 1 July 2010,
  • a State Department issued Consular Report of Birth Abroad (form FS 240, FS 545 or DS 1350),
  • an original Certificate of Naturalization (form N 550, N 570, or N 578),
  • an original Certificate of Citizenship (form N 560, N 561 or N 645).

For Non US:

  • a valid Permanent Residence Card (I 551),
  • a non US passport stamped “ Processed for I 551“,
  • a valid Employment Authorization Document (I 766),
  • a Record of Arrival and Departure (I 94) with attached photo and stamped ” Temporary Proof of Lawful Permanent Resident“,
  • a Record of Arrival and Departure (I 94) with attached photo and stamped either “Refugee“, “Parolee” or “Asylee“,
  • an unexpired, valid, non US passport accompanied by an approved I 94 showing latest entry into the United States,
  • a Travel Document indicating Permit to Re-enter ( I 327),
  • A Refugee Travel Document ( I 571),

Poof of Social Security Number

Your social security number must be verified. Proof comes in the form of an original of one of the following,

  • an original social security card,
  • a W-2 form,
  • a Social Security Administration Form 1099,
  • a Non-Social Security Administration Form 1099,
  • a Pay stub with your name and Social Security number on it.

Temporary foreign nationals who are not authorized for employment will have to verify their US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) number instead.

Proof of State Residency and Current Address

Your address in the state where you are applying for a license must be verified. Proof of address varies between the states but must jurisdictions are requiring two items for this category. Two of the following from the list should be presented as evidence,

  • a voter identification card,
  • a vehicle registration,
  • a utility bill,
  • a statement from a financial institution,
  • a rental or lease agreement,
  • a paycheck or pay stub from an employer in the state,
  • an enrollment document from a school in the state,
  • a homestead filling,
  • a military tax exemption in the state.

Existing, state issued, non-Real ID compliant driver’s licenses are not acceptable as evidence of residency and current address.

Minors will have a consent form signed by a parent, guardian or custodian  that will be sufficient in most states to satisfy the state residency and address verification requirement.

Applicants with Temporary Lawful Status

Foreigners with temporary Lawful status in the US can also be issued Real ID compliant driver’s licenses.  These licenses are stamped “Limited Term” and are valid for the period of Lawful stay, not to exceed two years. For applicant’s whose Lawful stay status is not defined or has an expiration day, their Real ID compliant driver’s licenses will be valid for no longer than a one year period.

State DMV Links

Since the responsibility  of issuing driver’s licenses is a state power, each state, although acting under the same federal real id guidelines, will have their own procedures.  The CSDL , a pro Real ID lobby group, has a list of the state DMV’s websites to verify the specific driver’s license requirements per state.

States React to Real ID

Even if you want to apply for a Real ID compliant driver’s license, you might not be able to get one. Depending on which state you reside in, the reaction to the Real ID law from the states has been mixed and varied.  Some states have embraced  the legislation and have made their driver’s licenses and ID cards compliant with the DHS guidelines, some states have  implemented some but not all of  the provisions in the guidelines, while some states have simply rejected the law and have passed legislation forbidding state compliance with the DHS guidelines. So, depending on your state of residence, your state issued ID or driver’s license may or not be valid for entry onto a plane or federal building requiring an ID.

The ACLU , a vocal opponent of Real ID on the State level, provides a state by state status of Anti- Real Id legislation on their anti Real ID website.

Current status of Real ID Compliance by State & Territory

REAL ID  Status State / Territory
Submitted full compliance certification packages to DHS1 Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, South Dakota, Tennessee. (5)
Self-certified: Issuing materially compliant licenses (meeting the first 18 benchmarks) +  the gold star compliance mark Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Utah (4)
Self-certified: Issuing materially compliant licenses (meeting the first 18 benchmarks) Arkansas, District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey. (7)
Committed to meeting material compliance but require more time Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. (12)
Certifiable Enhanced Driver’s License programs New York, Michigan, Vermont, Washington. (4)
Committed to meeting 15 of 18 benchmarks Arizona, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands (12)
Will not meet four or more benchmarks in the next 12 months Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Northern Marianas Islands2 (12)
1 According to DHS, other states have assured DHS that once DHS proves its willingness to certify states’ compliance packages, they will take the extra steps to assemble and submit the required packages.2 Montana, Oklahoma, and Washington have laws preventing REAL ID implementation, although Washington state has tried to repeal the law, and does have an Enhanced Driver License. Montana has strict issuing standards but they are not intended to be in line with REAL ID.

An online list of minimum standards for Real Driver’s Licenses and acceptable Identification cards is available from the USCIS.

Real ID Conclusion,  Traveler Recommendation

The statistics very on the exact number, but evidence points to the US having a surprising low rate of passports issued to it’s citizens in comparison to passport issuance rates from other countries. The past arguments defending the relatively low number of  US passports in circulation relative to population, range from the historical fact that US citizens haven’t been required to have passports for many international destinations and the US being so large, that most travel is domestic, not requiring  passport, are no longer valid. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which is in effect, requires a passport for reentry into the US by persons arriving by plane. This law not only applies to Non US travelers by  also to US citizens entering back into the US as well. Additionally, the new Real ID legislation not only demands an id to enter a plane, it defines rigorous criteria on what IDs will meet the standard of a Real ID.

Real ID is the law and is going to be enforced in January 2013. Regardless of what state you are from and when your driver’s license was issued, a valid passport or an equivalent passport card will satisfy the requirements for a Real ID. Acquisition of these documents is a routine procedure for G3’s processional passport associates. There is no excuse not to have one or both.

It is understandable not to want to take your passport on a domestic flight for a number of reasons. The passport card is a great alternative to a passport or state issued compliant driver’s license and is also a good back up ID when you need one. This federal ID is a card the same size as a driver’s license or credit card, can fit your wallet and meets all the DHS standards of a Real ID. Passport cards are also a good idea for minors traveling via air  inside the US, as these travelers usually don’t have any state issued, photo identification documents, as most of them aren’t eligible for driver’s license; even if they are from a state that issues compliant IDs. Passport cards provide minors and adults with an easy form of ID that meets the standards of a compliant Real ID.

Regardless of what form of ID you have you are going to be required to show a Real ID before you board a plane.  It remains to be seen what will happen to travelers who have misplaced, lost or have had their ID stolen while traveling. Having multiple forms of IDs, such as a compliant driver’s license, passport, or passport  card provides a back up if you misplace your ID while traveling. Savvy travelers know from experience to have a back plan in case of emergency. A passport and passport card can provide that Plan B coverage if your driver’s license is lost or, in the case of residents of Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Northern Marianas Islands, not valid for travel.


1. Passports now required for domestic travel?? - FlyerTalk Forums - 20 November 12

[…] What was debunked, and how? Is the prospect of another deadline extension "debunking"? BTW, more information is here. […]

Jonathan V. Phillips - 21 November 12

Thanks for your inquiry. DHS has indicated that there is no more extending the deadline for state compliance with realid. How this will be implemented for individuals remains to be seen. After researching the topic there is no definitive source that spells out policy for individual travelers with or with out realids and what will happen this January. We’ll be updating this as it develops over the next weeks.

2. Is Your Passport Valid for Travel? « g3insider - 2 January 13

[…] and more travel requires a passport. Even standard domestic flights inside the US will require a real id to board the plane in a few days. But there are a numerous issues that can make an apparently […]

3. vietnam visa online service - 19 May 13

Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely think this site needs far more attention.
I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!

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