Washington residents, beginning next fall, your standard issue state driver’s license will no longer be sufficient to get you through airport security.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, all travelers over age 18 will be required to present a REAL ID-compliant form of identification to board commercial flights within the United States.

The REAL-ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, prohibiting federal agencies, including the TSA, from accepting state-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards that do not meet the established minimum security standards.


Washington has been deemed “fully compliant” under REAL-ID. However, under Washington’s two-tiered licensing system, the standard driver’s license that most people have is not REAL-ID compliant.

If you want to fly with your Washington driver’s license beyond next September, you need to apply for the enhanced driver’s license that is valid under REAL-ID rules, but requires proof of U.S. citizenship.

Don’t want to get the enhanced driver’s license? You have some other options.


According to the Department of Homeland Security, the following forms of identification are REAL-ID compliant for commercial air travel:

  • U.S. or foreign passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • Military ID
  • Permanent resident card
  • Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • State-issued enhanced driver’s license
  • Tribal ID
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • Border crossing card
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

Travelers who intend to use their state-issued identification card or driver’s license will have to make sure their ID is REAL ID-compliant.

REAL ID-compliant identification cards are generally marked with a star located in the upper portion of the card. If you are unsure if your ID card is REAL ID-compliant, you can confirm with the state department of motor vehicles.

“TSA accepts more than driver licenses at the security checkpoint as a form of photo identification, so some travelers may already have an acceptable alternate form of ID,” Chris Baden, deputy federal security director for Washington, said in a news release Tuesday. “With pending federal enforcement of REAL ID requirements, TSA encourages state residents to take a few minutes to decide what photo identification you plan to use for travel on Oct. 1, 2020 and beyond.

“A year from today, TSA officers will not be permitted to grant access to the security checkpoint unless the traveler has a REAL ID-compliant form of identification.”

Travelers without acceptable forms of identification will not be allowed past security checkpoints.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington Department of Licensing and TSA officials held a media debriefing Tuesday to discuss the change coming in 2020. There are currently signs throughout Sea-Tac providing reminders for travelers and TSA officers are reminding travelers at security checkpoints.

The id2020wa.com website also includes a tool to help you determine whether your ID is REAL-ID compliant, and provides further information about the REAL-ID requirements that will be take effect in October 2020.