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ID Requirements for Air Travel to Change with Homeland Security’s Upcoming REAL ID Act

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Penn State faculty and staff may have heard about the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) REAL ID Act. How will the requirements for the REAL ID Act affect Penn State travelers?

First, it's important to understand that the REAL ID Act is a requirement of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For the latest information and answers to questions about Pennsylvania's compliance status, travelers should visit

The REAL ID Act of 2005 was introduced to set standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards acceptable by federal agencies for official purposes, including boarding a commercial flight. The REAL ID licensing requirement will apply to air travel as well as federal buildings; no statement has yet been made about requirements for train or cruise line travel.

Here are two important dates related to REAL ID:

* January 22, 2018 - Current PennDOT-issued driver's licenses and ID cards will remain acceptable identification for boarding domestic commercial flights at least through this date. PennDOT plans to submit a request to DHS for an extension until October 1, 2020. Assuming DHS grants an extension, Pennsylvania residents will still be able to use their current driver's license or ID card to board domestic commercial flights through October 1, 2020. If an extension isn't granted, however, Pennsylvania travelers will need a REAL ID-approved form of ID to board domestic commercial flights beginning January 23, 2018.

* October 1, 2020 - No more extensions will be granted, and all states will be required to use REAL ID driver's license, U.S. passport, military ID, or an alternative approved ID.

Penn State will keep travelers informed of all status updates on and via the Travel Listserv:

PennDOT is developing a plan that will make REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and ID cards available to Pennsylvania residents by March 2019. This will allow time for customers who want a REAL ID product to get one before the final DHS effective date of October 1, 2020. Information on REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions, is available at

Information about obtaining a U.S. passport is available at The Multimedia and Print Center, on the Penn State University Park Campus, is now a full-service passport location and offers a convenient option (