2016 Travel Changes

TSA Could Stop Accepting Some Driver’s Licenses Soon

By Adam Leposa | December 29, 2015
Federal government officials may soon be stepping up enforcement of the 2005 Real ID Act. Here’s what that means for air travel.
Filed under : Air Travel, government regulations

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Photo by Freeimages.com/Segio Ianni
The New York Times reports that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may stop accepting certain state driver’s licenses as identification when clearing airport security as early next year.

The move stems from the Real ID Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005 as part of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, and involves stepped-up standards for issuing the licenses. Under the terms of the law, states must require driver’s license applicants to provide documents to prove their identity, Social Security number and immigration status in the United States, as well as equip driver’s licenses with a chip or magnetic strip that stores the license holder’s personal information. The act also provides for sharing license holder information with other states and the federal government. The Department of Homeland Security has said that it will announce a schedule by the end of the year for when TSA agents would stop accepting driver’s licenses that do not comply with the Real ID standards, and that it would give 120 days’ notice before starting to enforce the law at airports.

Ars Technica reports that the federal government is due to stop accepting licenses from several U.S. territories and nine U.S. states as early as January 10, 2016: Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Most other states have been granted an extension to comply with the Real ID requirements through at least October 2016. The full list of states and the dates by which the TSA will currently stop accepting their drivers licenses is available on the Department of Homeland Security website.

According to the New York Times, proponents of the act say that the new standards will improve security, as well as reduce identity theft and fraud. Civil liberty organizations and libertarian groups have opposed the law, however, out of privacy concerns, and more than a dozen states have passed laws barring their motor vehicle departments from complying with the law. While the federal government cannot force state governments to comply, it has already begun requiring visitors to military bases, nuclear plants and other federal facilities to produce a driver’s license from a state that follows the law’s standards or show another form of government ID.

 

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