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People going through TSA security screening a busy international airport.
Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock

Why TSA Is Accepting Expired Licenses

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended for one year the deadline after which TSA will accept only drivers licenses or state ID cards with REAL ID as valid to fly domestically. The former October 2020 deadline is now October 1, 2021.

Until then, TSA will continue to accept conventional state ID as adequate ID for domestic air travel. TSA will also accept a conventional license or state ID that expired on or after March 1, for a year after expiration or 60 days after the duration of the emergency, whichever is longer. These changes are due to the impact of coronavirus shutdowns affecting the ability of state DMV office to process REAL ID applications.

If you still need a REAL ID driver’s license, all 50 states are now issuing them (if DMVs are still open). The basic idea behind REAL ID is to provide TSA with an improved basis for screening travelers, so you have to provide more background information than you do for a regular license—much of what you provide for a passport. And you pay extra: My state of Oregon, for example, charges both a $30 re-issue fee and a $30 REAL ID fee. Check with your state’s DMV or equivalent for details.

Even after that final deadline, not everyone will necessarily need a REAL-ID license. Passports, passport cards, permanent resident cards, and Trusted Traveler cards (which come with Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry) will continue to be adequate identification for domestic flights. Also adequate are “enhanced” drivers licenses issued by border states Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington.

On top of the REAL ID standards, one more thing that’s suspended due to the pandemic is Global Entry renewal, which you can read more about here.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.

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