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U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

REAL ID gets real: October 2020

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postedNovember 25, 2019

REAL ID business card

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement the final phase of REAL ID enforcement on Oct. 1, 2020. Through the program, every American air traveler must present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or other acceptable forms of identification (such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID) to fly within the United States.

“This is an important step in enhancing commercial aviation security, and we urge travelers to ensure they have compliant documents,” said Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan. “DHS is committed to working with states as they continue their efforts to issue REAL IDs to Americans.”

There has been a lot of concern in the travel industry about the level of preparedness that exists and about states’ progress in making REAL ID licenses available to residents. An estimated 99 million Americans (39%) do not have any of the forms of identification that they’ll need next year, and the majority of Americans (57%) are unaware of the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.

Once the policy goes into effect, individuals who are unable to verify their identity with a REAL ID will not be allowed to fly domestically.

Tour operators, as well as destination marketers and tour suppliers, can help raise awareness for REAL ID. There are a number of resources available at the Department of Homeland Security website,, that offer more specifics on the program—including specifics on what people need to do—before the deadline. Find an extensive FAQ document and many downloadable promotional materials at

Top photo ©Ahmed/Adobe Stock