TSA To Stop Taking Driver’s Licenses from 9 U.S. States

Deal Expert, Chicago
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UPDATE, Jan. 14: The TSA has responded to many questions about the changes, outlining answers to common questions on a new website. It says that until January 2018, if traveling by air, residents from ANY state are still able to use a driver’s license, or any of the various other forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration.

In the fall, it was widely reported that people from four U.S. states may need a passport to fly domestically this year. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has increased the list of U.S. locations not offering state driver’s licenses that comply with new federal regulations known as the Real ID Act.

The complete list now is:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • South Carolina
  • Washington state
  • Puerto Rico
  • Guam
  • the U.S. Virgin Islands

Under the act, all licenses must be equipped with machine-readable technology, which typically comes in the form of a chip. The IDs being issued now are considered non-compliant.

Residents from these states would have to fly on another form of ID, most likely a U.S. passport or passport card. However, only about four of every 10 Americans have a passport, according to the State Department. Other acceptable forms of ID will include U.S. military ID, permanent residence cards or trusted traveler cards like NEXUS or Global Entry.

How To Prepare for a Flight

The deadline had been set for mid-January, but the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t set firm guidelines in place, it’s expected that travelers will have at least four months notice before the changes go into effect.

Click here for more detailed information about the Department of Homeland Security’s policies and updates.

Note: This information was accurate as of Jan. 4. Travelzoo will update our readers when there are updates to these new policies and new domestic air sales.

Photo by Elena Elisseeva / Shutterstock.com

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Show 42 Comments
  • Langtry

    Thank you for this update, I support a group of partners, and this will help all of them to avoid hiccups in their travel plans.

  • Susan Richart

    New Jersey got an extension.

    DHS will blink on this.

  • scipio1

    What about enhanced driver license/ID cards (EDL/EID)?

  • Samuel A. Montalvo-Inkiriwang

    I thought American Samoa was included in this list

  • Brad Burgess

    Where is this mentioned on the TSA site or another official site?

  • itgirlnyc

    i have a enhanced drivers license. Is that valid ID for domestic travel?

    • BABOSO

      Ridiculous, isn’t it?

      • itgirlnyc

        did i ask u specifically? y get so angry? it’s okay. breath.

        • properthwacking

          Did you ask a question and then snarl when someone responded not to your liking? Take a chill pill!

          • itgirlnyc

            Wow. So it’s ok for this person to be rude (totally uncalled for) but it’s not ok for me to call him out. That’s some interesting standards. FYI – the original reply was ” how the he’ll woyld I know? ” which he deleted (I wonder why? Maybe cuz I was right?). He then reposted the “ridiculous, isn’t it?”. You don’t have all the information.

        • Marie Parish Weathers

          I didn’t think he meant you were ridiculous. The new rules and all the stuff they are making us jump through is ridiculous.
          I found one place that says California has an extension, and on the next page it said we were expired.

    • cowboyinbrla

      Not necessarily, itgirl. Enhanced driver’s licenses are not necessarily fully REAL-ID compliant, although all REAL-ID compliant licenses and ID cards will be much like enhanced driver’s licenses. Assuming you’re in NY (from your name), your license will work until at least October 10, 2016 – giving NY time to make their ID process compliant.

  • Tom ONeill

    I personally read up on this out of curiosity and it’s of my opinion that Travelzoo and the rest of the media are not being super clear about the timeline here. If I understand correctly, the regulation on Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft is the fourth and final phase of a massive federal rollout of these REAL ID requirements. Phase one is starting this year. When they get to phase four they will first work with the state to evaluate an appropriate timeline to get into compliance after which they’ll give the residents no less than 120 notice. If I was a betting man, I’d give you great odds that we don’t have to worry about this in 2016.

    • cowboyinbrla

      Actually, phase four is the one starting January 10. The feds have signaled that if a state presents a plan before then on how they plan to comply within the year, they’ll get an extension till the end of the year; otherwise, the feds put them on 120 day notice that their licenses will not be accepted at the end of that period. Phases 1 and 2 have already passed. We are nearing the end of Phase 3.

      Louisiana is not on this list, for instance, because we have a plan in place. (Our legislature passed the necessary legislation last year but our outgoing governor, Piyush “Bobby” Swindle, vetoed it. Our incoming governor voted for the legislation so presumably we’ll be in compliance soon. So the feds agreed to give us an extension.

      • h4x354x0r

        While in Missouri, the brilliant legislature has passed laws specifically PROHIBITING the state from complying with the Real ID act.

    • Laura Adams

      You may not need to worry about this in 2016, however what you will need to worry with when it DOES become a mandate is the WAIT for passports. The passport agencies don’t care how quickly you need them and paying expedited fees are high. Think about that and prepare NOW!

  • Shirley Webler
  • http://www.travelzoo.com/blog/ Travelzoo Blog

    UPDATE: As of 9:15 a.m. on Jan. 6, the Department of Homeland Security has given Alaska, California, New Jersey and South Carolina an extension, “allowing Federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses from these states until October 10, 2016.”

  • Nancy Bakos

    Minnesota does have the enhanced version which includes the “passport.” It’s just offered at specific areas-not at every Drivers license office. Anoka, MN offers the enhanced drivers license.

  • combatmedic

    Where the hell did this come from? I travel often and seen no warnings about this at any airport. Do they just expect people to know these things?

  • Roger Coke

    I’ve got a better idea: How about just having “enhanced drivers” and getting all of these idiots who talk on their cell phones or don’t know where they’re going off the roads????

  • http://www.colegeissinger.com/ ColeGeissinger

    All of this information is wrong. Check the new Rumor’s page. The states listed as “COMPLIANT” are deadlines when the REAL ID licenses are made available. Depending on what state you are in, depends on the cut off date. Right now, there is a plan in motion to put this in effect by 2020, most with not 100% certainty that 2020 is the deadline.

  • South Texan

    So why aren’t concealed carry licenses acceptable?

    • Joe Smith

      Gov hates guns

  • Nancy Gagne Walton

    Apparently, New Mexico met the extension guideline, as I recently (Jan 6, Jan 9) flew from NM to California on my drivers license.

  • jpop

    now you will have to wear a towel or a burka and they will accept an i.d. from zimbabwe.

  • Sina

    This article is missing so much important information and the headline is misleading and inaccurate. For more accurate details see:



    Rumor: TSA isn’t going to accept my driver’s license starting on January 1, 2016
    Fact: TSA will continue to accept driver’s licenses issued by all states through January 2018 and, then, will continue to accept licenses from all compliant states or noncompliant states with an extension.

    Rumor: I need to get a new driver’s license or passport
    Fact: You have until October 2020 to replace your current license with a REAL ID compliant license, as long as your state is compliant or is noncompliant with an extension.

  • Janet

    It has been well-publicized by TSA that no ID is required to fly. They have testified to this in federal court and reported it to Congress. This is all just political posturing; if TSA “decides” not to accept IDs in certain states, they will just need to double or triple the staffing levels at airports in those states to accommodate additional screening measures. This is a giant game of chicken where the federal government is trying to assume powers that belong to the states.

    • tbmNews

      In most cases people fly from one state to another. We call that “interstate” and that IS federal!

      • Janet

        1. They still don’t have to have ID to fly domestically. The TSA testified to that in federal court and to Congress.
        2. It is a well established constitutional right that citizens cannot be restricted from traveling between the 50 states. See the “Privileges and Immunities Clause’. Further, it is established by federal law that US Citizens have a public right of transit through navigable US airspace.
        3. If TSA wants to impose a federal ID so that people can travel interstate, they can certainly try to get that through the courts, although I believe there is ample precedent that they would be slapped down. It is simply not within federal powers to force the states to alter their drivers licenses.

        TSA knows all this, and that is why they are fighting a dirty battle, trying to scare people into thinking that they won’t be able to fly without ‘federally compliant IDs’ when in fact, TSA HAS TESTIFIED IN FEDERAL COURT AND TO CONGRESS THAT NO ID IS REQUIRED TO FLY DOMESTICALLY.

        • sb10guard .

          Janet, regarding your point #2: the key word is “citizens”
          How do you prove you are a citizen? The easiest way to verify is a state issued ID. The federal government has decided it would be quicker if state issued ID’s met the newer standards. So, you might not be prohibited from traveling, but it might take longer to prove you are a citizen. People that want to prove a point about moving freely between states without a federally approved ID will be able to, albeit after traversing a much more ponderous proof-of-citizenship path. If you have time to bother with that – rock on!

  • Mamil Dujour

    It’s clearly racist that illegal aliens, who just happen to be Mexicans or Chinese, with California drivers licenses can’t fly around the US.

    • SafetyIsNoAccident

      If they’re ” Illegal ” doesnt that make a point in itself, …….not to mention for security reasons as well in this day and age. Its too easy to get documents(fake, stolen or real) to “exist” here once you are “In”. Extra layer of security wont hurt. Time to tighten it up for everyones safety. There is a legal process that millions have gone through….. the right way.

    • tbmNews

      You pretty much answered your own question! If they are illegal, they should NOT be able to get a drivers license or any other US ID to fly. Frankly it pisses me off that they can came into our country illegally, yet I have to pay $110 for a US passport to travel back in myself!

    • Joe Smith

      I hope that was sarcasim.

  • Kyle Vasquez

    What about Enhanced Driver licenses?

  • Jason Collins

    Remember the TSA does absolutely NOTHING to make you safer. They have NEVER stopped one “terrorist,” yet their agents have been arrested (over 400) for everything from drug trafficking to child porn and every possible crime in between.

    • Stoner James

      you have all the right is very true..

  • markto1

    Why do articles like this neglect to add that passport cards are also acceptable.

  • Barbara Calfee-Lawrence

    all these dumbass states are protecting their people from the federal ID because that would allow the govt to control what we are allowed to buy…where we are allowed to go etc….Missouri has a law protecting us from having to conform, and I for one, am glad they do…all the other states are like sheep to the slaughter. Go do your due diligence before spouting crap! HA HA

  • Joe Smith

    It’s the push to have trackers in all ID’s