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Real ID DHS Update 4 January 13

Posted by Jonathan V. Phillips in Passport, Passport Card, Real Id, traveler advise.
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As the January 15 deadline for the implementation of the provisions of the 2005 Real ID Bill nears, the Department of Homeland Security has reiterated their intention to enforce it.  For domestic air travel, this means a photo id is required to board a plane. The Real ID Bill outlined the criteria for acceptable photo ids and demanded the states issue driver’s licenses compliant to those standards.

Many states have delayed updating their ids and some have even implemented legal barriers to making their issued driver’s licenses and state id’s compliant with the new federal standards. As of January 2013, the DHS has determined only 13 states to be in compliance with the provisions of the  Real ID statute. We have an earlier entry that details which states are in compliance and which are not.

As a result of the backlash the DHS has now issued a revised statement regarding the enforcement of the Real ID law. The agency is giving a deferment to the states  and has allocated over 200 million dollars in grant money for states to update their current id systems to the new standards. The DHS statement does not address the issue created by the states that have passed legislation prohibiting compliance with the federal statute. That situation will probably be arbitrated in the Supreme Court.

The DHS plans to announce in the fall of 2013 when state driver’s licences will need to meet the Real Id criteria. In the mean time, if you have id that is not technically compliant, you will still be able to board a plane in the US. For travelers, this means that the TSA will accept their existing driver’s licences, most likely for the duration of 2013. 

There are other forms of ID that are issued to the standards of the Real ID law besides a state issued driver’s license. Passports and passport cards and most military IDs are considered Real IDs. It is recommended that if you come from a state that does not issue a Real ID driver’s licence, to get a passport or passport card for flying  purposes. We have an earlier article on the advantages of a passport card for travel. These ids are especially useful in cases where the travelers are minors, and don’t have a driver’s license.

Real ID implementation continues to evolve. The DHS has acquiesced on it’s enforcement by delaying the role out date twice. Now it says it is going ahead with the law but has issued deferments for ids that are not compliant.  It remains to be seen what the outcome will be for the states that refuse to be compliant with the standards of their driver’s licences. The issue will most likely be resolved in the courts. In the meantime, the January 15 deadline is coming due and the law will go into effect, albeit in a limited, watered down manner that seems to invalidate the rationale behind the statute. Readers can expect and update as more information becomes available and the policy gets implemented at airports across the country.


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