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REAL ID for Student Trips

by Cameron Parker

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005. We’ve had 14 years to prepare, yet most of us probably haven’t. Heck, most of us probably don’t even know what REAL ID is! The time for playing ostrich, however, is over. As of October 1, 2020, EVERY air traveler 18 years or older MUST have a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. For all the procrastinators out there, it’s time to get REAL ID ready!

What is REAL ID?

REAL ID is the federal act requiring minimum security standards for state-issued identifications (like driver’s licenses). It prohibits federal agencies from accepting ID that doesn’t meet these standards for official purposes. Purposes include boarding federally regulated aircraft, accessing federal facilities like military bases or federal courthouses or entering nuclear power plants. REAL ID is intended to be a consistent safety measure for our national security.

How can I tell if I have a REAL ID?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, all REAL ID compliant cards will have one of the following marks on the top of the card
Examples of REAL ID markings
If you’re ID doesn’t have one of these marks, it’s not a REAL ID!

Is a REAL ID the same as a passport?

REAL ID and passports are NOT the same. If you are traveling internationally, including Canada, Mexico or cruise travel, you still must have a passport. If you are traveling domestically, a REAL ID or a passport is acceptable.

Does my student group need REAL ID to travel?

Students under the age of 18 do not need identification to fly in the U.S. when traveling with a companion. Students 18 and older will need a REAL ID or other form of acceptable identification.

Is my state issuing REAL ID?

As of September 5, 2019, all 50 states and territories are on track to issue REAL ID compliant licenses and IDs by October 1, 2020.

How do I get a REAL ID?

Each state may require slightly different documents at its driver’s licensing centers so check the website before going in person. Minimum requirements are full legal name, date of birth, social security number, 2 proofs of address and lawful status.

How much does a REAL ID cost?

Fees for a REAL ID vary by state. For example, in Pennsylvania, the cost is $30 plus the cost of a license renewal. In Virginia, a REAL ID is $10 plus the renewal. Check with your state’s driver’s licensing center for rates prior to applying.

What if I don’t get a REAL ID by October 1, 2020?

If you don’t have a REAL ID or other acceptable form of ID by October 1, 2020, you will NOT be allowed beyond the TSA security checkpoint. The TSA WILL accept U.S. passport, U.S. military ID, enhanced drivers’ licenses from MI, MN, NY, VT and WA, and DHS trusted travel cards such as Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST.

Yes, 14 years have passed in the blink of an eye (ahem) and it’s time to get REAL ID ready. If you have travel plans that include a domestic flight after September 30, 2020, check this one off your list today!

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