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How To Know If Your Driver’s License Will Be Valid For Air Travel Next Year

Find out where your state stands.

Updated 10/4/2017

As if traveling wasn’t already complicated enough, a federal mandate is imposing new requirements on state driver’s licenses and ID cards for use in air travel.

The REAL ID Act of 2005 prohibits federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), from accepting identification from states that are not compliant with certain security standards. Federal minimum security requirements include verifying every ID applicant’s identity, putting anti-counterfeit technology into the production of the card and conducting background checks on the people issuing the driver’s licenses.

While states have been working towards compliance for years, in some cases the process was slowed by the required passage or repeal of certain laws.

Currently, 26 states plus Washington D.C. are compliant with the rules. The remaining states have been given extensions to meet the standards. The deadline for compliance is currently Oct. 10, 2017, but DHS announced Oct. 3 that it’ll be granting a grace period from enforcement until January 22, 2018.

If you plan to fly after January 22, 2018, but live in a state that won’t be deemed compliant by then, your best bet is to stay tuned to your DMV or local transportation authority for updates. It’s highly likely that additional extensions will be granted before then.

(However if you want to be extra-safe, you could apply for or ensure you have an updated passport.)

Other acceptable forms of documentation for travel include a military ID, DHS trusted traveler card and permanent resident card. See the full list of accepted documents.

us passport photo
Getty Images | Sandy Huffaker

Entrance To Federal Facilities Also Affected

Unless your state becomes compliant or receives an extension, IDs from non-compliant states will not be accepted for entry into federal facilities, nuclear power plants or military bases as of January 22, 2018. While this deadline may also shift in the coming months, it’s a very good idea to contact the federal facility you plan to visit in order to learn what documentation they require.

us military base entrance photo
Getty Images | Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora

The following states and territories are working toward compliance. Some of the states on the list will be deemed compliant soon, while others are working to receive additional extensions that would provide them more time to reach compliance.

If you are wondering about what to expect come January 22, 2018, we are providing you with the latest information available from each state. It would be well-advised to check back in with your state DMV or transportation authority for updates.

Residents from all states should have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or state ID card as of October 1, 2020, which is being called the “drop dead” date for all state ID processes to be in compliance.

Many states are offering residents a choice between compliant and non-compliant IDs.

Alaska

According to the Alaska DMV, the state will issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards starting January 1, 2019. The state has applied for an extension with Homeland Security as it works towards this date. The status of that extension is pending. As of the time of publication, because of the grace period, Alaska residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

It’s that the state will receive an additional extension that’ll keep residents covered until 2019, but that is to be determined.

American Samoa

American Samoa has an extension through October 10, 2017. It’s unclear if a request for an additional extension has been filed.

Because of the DHS grace period, Am. Samoa residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

Residents should contact their transportation authority for more details.

California

California will begin issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and ID cards in January 2018, which will be the final step in reaching compliance for the state.

Based on this, the only deadline residents will need to keep in mind is October 1, 2020, which is when all residents will need a REAL ID-compliant card in order to fly commercially.

Visit the DMV site for more details.

Guam

Guam has an extension through October 10, 2017. It’s unclear if a request for an additional extension has been filed.

Because of the grace period, residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

Contact the Guam Motor Vehicle Division for more details.

Idaho

Idaho expects to be deemed in compliance in January 2018, which is when the state will begin issuing compliant IDs, according to Jake Melder with the Idaho Transportation Department.

Based on this, the only deadline residents will need to keep in mind is October 1, 2020, which is when all residents will need a REAL ID-compliant card in order to fly commercially. Idaho residents will be given the option of receiving a REAL ID-compliant license—called a Star Card—or opting out and choosing to use another form of approved ID for air travel or to access federal facilities.

Residents can learn more by visiting the ITD website.

Illinois

Illinois expects to come into compliance in October 2018. The state has applied for an extension from DHS until that date. The status of that extension is pending.

Because of the grace period, Illinois residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

It’s likely that the state will receive an additional extension that’ll keep residents covered until October 2018, but that is to be determined.

Residents should refer to the Secretary of State website for further information.

Kentucky

Kentucky expects to be compliant by January 1, 2019. The state has applied for an extension beyond the existing extension that ends October 10, 2017. The status of that extension is pending.

Because of the grace period, Kentucky residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

It’s likely that the state will receive an additional extension that’ll keep residents covered until the state reaches compliance, but that is to be determined.

The state says it will be launching a public education campaign about the updated IDs in 2018.

Residents should refer to the Drive Kentucky website for more details.

Louisiana

Louisiana residents looking to fly after January 22, 2018, should have nothing to worry about. For starters, the state’s been issuing REAL ID-compliant identification since October 2016. And beyond that, the state is just waiting for DHS to approve the final piece of documentation the state needs to be deemed fully compliant, so there’s no further action the state needs to make at this time in order to be in compliant.

Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles Commissioner, Karen St. Germain, said the state should be officially marked as compliant within the next several months.

Residents will be given the choice to receive a REAL ID-compliant or non-compliant driver’s license or state ID, as in several other states. REAL ID-compliant identification will be required for all air travel as of October 1, 2020.

Visit the OMV website for more details.

Maine

Maine expects to be REAL ID compliant by July 2019, and the state expects to receive an extension beyond the one that expires October 10, 2017.

As of the time of publication, because of the grace period, Maine residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

Visit the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles website for more information and updates on an additional extension.

Massachusetts

According to the Registry of Motor Vehicles:

“The RMV anticipates being able to begin issuing REAL IDs in April 2018. Until that time, the RMV will seek extensions from the Department of Homeland Security so our credentials will remain acceptable for federal identification.”

In other words, Massachusetts travelers should have nothing to worry about, but it’s a good idea to stay tuned to the RMV website for updates.

Michigan

Michigan began offering REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses on October 1, 2017, so it’s likely just a matter of time before the state is officially deemed compliant.

Michigan residents who want to fly with a driver’s license will need to upgrade to the the REAL-ID compliant driver’s license by October 1, 2020.

Minnesota

Minnesota has filed for an extension that would bring the state to REAL ID compliance by October 2018. While the request is pending, the Star-Tribune reports that the extension is likely to be granted.

This means Minnesota residents should likely not have to worry about the January 22, 2018 deadline.

Stay tuned to the Driver and Vehicle Services division for more information.

Missouri

Missouri expects to roll out REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses starting in March 2019. The state’s filed for an extension in order to ensure residents can travel with non-compliant IDs until then. The request is pending but likely to be approved.

Stay tuned to the Missouri Department of Revenue website for updates.

Montana

Montana expects to start issuing REAL ID compliant licenses by early 2019 at the latest, according to KTVH. The state has requested an extension past the October 10, 2017 deadline, and the outcome of that request is pending.

Residents should stay tuned to the Montana Motor Vehicle Division for updates.

Northern Marianas

Northern Marianas has an extension through October 10, 2017. It’s unclear if a request for an additional extension has been filed.

Because of the DHS grace period, residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

Residents should contact their transportation authority for more details.

New Hampshire

REAL ID-compliant licenses are already being offered in New Hampshire, so it’s like the state will get an additional extension beyond October 10, 2017 and residents won’t need to worry about flying with non-compliant IDs until 2020.

Residents should stay tuned to the DMV for more details.

New Jersey

New Jersey expects to be in compliance by the end of 2017, according to NJ.com. That would mean that New Jersey travelers likely won’t need to worry about the January 22, 2018 deadline.

Stay tuned to the Motor Vehicle Commission for updates.

New York

New York will start issuing Real ID-compliant identification starting October 30, 2017, so it’s unlikely New York travelers will need to worry about the January 22, 2018 deadline.

Stay tuned to the DMV for more details.

North Carolina

Though the state hasn’t yet been deemed fully compliant, North Carolina began issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses in May 2017. It’s unlikely that North Carolina travelers will be affected by the January 22, 2018 deadline.

Stay tuned to the DOT for more details.

North Dakota

According to MyNDNow, the state plans to start issuing REAL-ID compliant identification in the spring of 2018. It’s unclear if the state has filed for any extension or the status of that extension, but it’s unlikely that travelers from North Dakota would be affected by the January 22, 2018 deadline since the compliant ID process is soon-to-happen.

Stay tuned to the DOT for more details.

Oklahoma

While it could be a couple years before Oklahoma starts issuing REAL ID-compliant identification, the state is working towards compliance and has filed for an extension beyond the October 10, 2017 deadline.

Because of the grace period, Oklahoma residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

It’s likely that the state will receive an additional extension that’ll keep residents covered until the state is compliant, but that is to be determined.

Residents should stay tuned to the DPS website for updates.

Oregon

While Oregon is not likely to have compliant ID cards ready until July 2020, the state expects to continue receiving extensions that will ensure Oregonians can travel with non-compliant IDs while the state works towards compliance.

Stay tuned to the DOT for updates.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania expects to offer REAL ID-compliant licenses by 2019, but the state has filed for an extension to ensure residents won’t be affected by the January 22, 2018 deadline.

Stay tuned to the DOT website for updates.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has already begun issuing compliant IDs, however the state is still not deemed fully compliant. It’s unclear if the territory has filed for additional extensions (the government clearly has other priorities after Hurricane Maria).

Because of the DHS grace period, residents without a compliant ID will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

Puerto Rico residents should contact their transportation authority for more details.

Rhode Island

While the state is working to meet REAL ID compliance, it’s unclear when the state expects to become fully compliant and whether it’s filed for an extension beyond October 10, 2017.

Because of the grace period, Rhode Island residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

South Carolina

According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles website:

“SCDMV is working with DHS on further extensions, while at the same time, working towards certification to issue REAL ID licenses and IDs. The SCDMV anticipates receiving an additional extension that will carry the state through October 2018. The SCDMV and State of South Carolina anticipate being fully compliant and issuing REAL ID licenses and IDs during the first-quarter of 2018.”

Because the state’s filed for an additional extension and “anticipates” receiving it, South Carolina residents probably don’t have to worry about the January 22, 2018 deadline.

Stay tuned to the DMV site for updates.

Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands territory has an extension through October 10, 2017. It’s unclear if a request for an additional extension has been filed.

Because of the DHS grace period, residents will at minimum be safe to use their licenses and ID cards for travel until January 22, 2018.

Residents should contact their transportation authority for more details.

Virginia

Virginia plans to offer compliant IDs in October 2018, so it’s likely the state has filed for a DHS extension until then.

Virginia residents should stay tuned to the DMV to confirm, but it’s unlikely they’ll be affected by the January 22, 2018 deadline.

Washington

Washington already offers, but does not mandate, REAL ID-compliant identification, however the state needs more time to become fully compliant, according to KOMO News. The state has applied for a DSH extension until October 2018, so it’s unlikely residents will be affected by the January 22, 2018 deadline.

Residents should stay tuned to the DOL for updates.

DHS.gov

The following states (plus D.C.) are already compliant:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington D.C.
  • West Virgina
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Residents from these states should stay cognizant of the October 1, 2020 deadline. Make sure you get a compliant ID from your state before then if you plan to use that as your primary documentation when flying.

RELATED: This Helpful Visual Shows How Legroom On Most Major Airlines Stacks Up

Stay tuned to the TSA website for updates on your state’s status and if you want to be extra-safe, you can get started applying for or renewing your passport!

us passport photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle