You have until 2018 before you need to replace your standard Washington driver’s license when flying domestically.
Here’s an updated Q&A on Washington state’s status pertaining to the REAL ID Act, what type of identification Washington state residents may use when traveling, and costs of each:
Q: Are we different from other states in how we issue our driver’s licenses?
A: Yes. Washington and New Mexico are the only states that issue standard driver’s licenses without proof of legal residency, one of the REAL ID stipulations for state-issued ID that can be used at airports and federal facilities.
But we’re not alone in being out of compliance with REAL ID requirements. Other states still issue driver’s licenses that are not compliant, which might mean the license doesn’t incorporate special security features, or the agencies don’t conduct required employee-background checks or any of many detailed criteria.
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Q: What can I use once my standard Washington driver’s license is no longer honored at the airport (after Jan. 22, 2018, according to the latest information from the Department of Homeland Security)?
A: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers a complete list of acceptable IDs at tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.
At present, the most common choices for Washington residents are a state-issued “enhanced driver’s license,” available since 2007, a U.S. passport card or a U.S. passport book.
Q: Is one better than the others?
A: All require that you present proof of citizenship, such as an original birth certificate or a naturalization certificate. The bad news: Some cost more than the $54 you now pay for a standard six-year license renewal, though the U.S. passport card is basically the same cost.
• A passport book is easily recognized worldwide and happily accepted at domestic airports, too. If you choose to travel by air outside the United States, it’s required. Cost for a first-time adult applicant (16 and older) is $110 plus a $25 processing fee, or $135, good for 10 years. Processing can take up to six weeks. More info: travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports.html.
• Washington’s enhanced driver’s license can be used for land-based border crossings and for boarding domestic flights. It fits easily in a wallet. Cost for first-time applicants is $72 plus a $35 processing fee, or $107, good for six years.
If you hold a valid standard Washington driver’s license, you can upgrade for $3 per year for the time remaining on your license. Processing can take up to three weeks. Note: Lawmakers might reconsider, but the plan for now is for the first-time charge to increase in July to $108 plus the $35 processing fee, or $143. More info: dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/edl.html.
• The U.S. passport card is accepted at airport security for domestic flights and when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. First-time applicant cost: $55. More info: travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/card.html.
Q: What are the requirements for children flying with me?
A: TSA does not require children younger than 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States.
Q: In order to get an enhanced license or passport, I need my birth certificate. How can I get that?
A: It depends on where you were born, whether you were adopted, born on a military base, etc. Here’s a quick primer from your friendly U.S. government: usa.gov/replace-vital-documents#item-36582.