Homeland Security sets January 2018 deadline before state’s standard-issue ID won’t pass checkpoints.
If you use your standard-issue Washington driver’s license as identification at airport security when flying around the United States, you can keep doing so for at least two more years.
That’s the bottom line from a recent announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson clarifying his agency’s enforcement plans for the federal REAL ID Act.
“Right now, no individual needs to adjust travel plans or rush out to get a new driver’s license or a passport for domestic-air travel,” Johnson announced earlier this month. “Until Jan. 22, 2018, residents of all states will still be able to use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for domestic-air travel.”
The future acceptability of standard Washington driver’s licenses and identification cards has been fuzzy since October, when Homeland Security denied the state an extension for complying with the REAL ID Act.
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The law, passed in 2005 but slow to be fully adopted, requires proof of U.S. citizenship or proof of lawful status in the U.S. in order for state-issued ID to be valid for federal use such as airport-security points or entering federal courthouses and other secure federal facilities.
Brad Benfield, spokesman for the Washington state Department of Licensing (DOL), called the announcement “good news” for state residents.
“It will give the traveling public up to two years to learn more about the federal REAL ID requirements and make informed decisions about the type of identification they want to use for air travel in the future,” he said in an email.
Homeland Security’s Johnson said that 23 states are already fully compliant with the REAL ID Act, and his department has granted time extensions to 27 states and territories that have taken steps toward compliance. Residents of those jurisdictions will have until Oct. 1, 2020 before they are required to have a REAL ID-compliant license or other acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel.
He said six other states and territories — Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and American Samoa — are noncompliant and do not currently have extensions, meaning their residents fall under the January 2018 deadline.
But the extension list is subject to change. Washington could potentially get an extension if the state Legislature acts to amend procedures for standard license issuance, according to Tony Sermonti, legislative director for Washington’s DOL.
Washington state already offers enhanced driver’s licenses and IDs that are valid under the federal law. The state’s enhanced driver’s license or ID card costs more than the standard issue and requires presentation of proof of citizenship, such as an original birth certificate or a naturalization certificate.
Another option for flying is to present a U.S. passport book, which costs more than a state ID and can take up to six weeks to obtain. Passport books are required for flying internationally. Passport cards are acceptable for domestic flights, and cost just $55.
The Transportation Security Administration offers a complete list of acceptable IDs at tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.