October 1, 2020. Mark the date on your calendar! This is the day when all hell will break loose in airports across the country. I am no sage capable of predicting an air traffic controller’s strike or a computer malfunction or worse. I just know people. October 1, 2020 is the deadline for all passengers to be REAL ID compliant. Will your clients be ready? I am guessing many will not.
REAL ID compliance is the largest change in airport security ever. It is that simple. If you do not have a REAL ID compliant form of identification, you are not getting on a plane—plain and simple.
In 2015, Congress passed the Real ID Act which sets stricter standards for issuing official identification such as driver’s licenses and identification cards. They gave marching orders to the states to make their licensing compliant and they are slowing coming around—because nothing move fast in government.
With the vast majority of domestic travelers using a driver’s license to board a plane today, this will be a problem if they have not taken the appropriate steps before October 1, 2020. How big? Like “you can’t board the aircraft” big.
So what needs to happen? People need to contact their local MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration) to see if their license is compliant. Most states will have a checker on their website. If it is—breathe a sigh of relief.
If not, you will need to gather up some documents and present yourself in person at the MVA to prove who you are and to become compliant.
To be compliant you need to prove your identity, your address and your social security number. Generally for your identity, you can use an unexpired Passport or an original or certified copy of your birth certificate. For your social security number, you will need an original social security card or a copy of your most recent W-2 with the FULL number. To establish your address, you will need a utility bill in your name, mortgage statement, or lease. There are alternatives, but these are the biggies.
And my advice is to advise your clients to do it now. In Maryland, we are hearing wait times of 4 hours and longer. When you figure 4.5 million licenses, 1.5 million ID cards and only 13 places to process them—you can see the problem.
With all that said the Department of Homeland Security is asking for help and they are leaning on us to help get the word out and prepare our clients. You know Frank who all of a sudden discovered his real name was Franklin on his passport. This change will not insure that driver’s license names and passport names match; but they may need to flesh it all out first!
Here is a perfect chance to reach out to your clients with very solid information. Check out your state’s MVA site and see what all is needed. Gather up your links and create an email broadcast to your clients letting them know. And then remind them again in 6 months. Offer to provide additional information if needed. Become their source for information about how to board a plane.
Now if your client already has a REAL ID compliant license or ID card there is no reason—but check. If they have a current, valid passport or military ID or a Global Entry card they are also OK. But they must travel with them and use them for ID to board planes.
And it is not just about planes. Compliant ID will be required to be presented to access any Federal Buildings, military bases, Embassies, etc.
And finally, for those that need to get their licenses changed—do it now. The time will vary from state to state, but in Maryland it took more than three weeks for my license to reflect the new compliance, so it is not an immediate change.