Don't have a Real ID yet? TSA spokesperson explains what to use for flying instead

ByMichael Finney KGO logo
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
So, do you need a Real ID to fly or not?
Because of the pandemic and the new presidential administration, the implementation of the Real ID requirement for air travel has been delayed several times.

SAN FRANCISCO -- We all remember the TSA security lines, but do you remember all the ID rules? We were told we would be left at the gate if we didn't get the more secure Real ID driver's license. Well, only about half of us got through the DMV lines before the pandemic slowed things down. So that begs a question: What's the deal with Real ID?

Lorie Dankers is a spokesperson for the TSA. "Last year, at the onset of the pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security delayed the enforcement date for Real ID," she says.

Then it was delayed a second time.

"Since then," Dankers says, "with the Biden administration coming in, they have extended the real ID enforcement deadline to May 3, 2023."

RELATED: REAL ID deadline pushed back to 2023 due to pandemic

So for now, your current driver's license works even if you don't have one that's Real ID compliant... and even if -- get this -- it has expired.

"If your driver's license or your passport, or whatever form of ID you're planning to use at the checkpoint, is expired, TSA will accept that document for up to one year past the expiration date," says Dankers.

If you don't have a license or it is more than a year out of date, Carol Epps offers this idea as a work around: get a passport card. You might have bought one when you got your passport; if not, you can get one now.

"I'm prepared, I'm ready to go, but a lot of people don't know that they can use that card as a Real ID," Epps says. "They don't have any idea, and some people don't even know they can get it with their passport."

There are restrictions on how a passport card can be used and there are other IDs accepted for air travel.

Visit TSA's website for a guide that can help you sort things out further.