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After years of delays and deadline changes, it’s finally happening. Starting May 3, 2023, every traveler wishing to board a domestic flight will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or an alternative acceptable form of identification. Those who don’t won’t be allowed through the security checkpoint.
If you don’t travel often, or your vacations tend to stay closer to home, you may not think this applies to you. Keep in mind, however, that after May 3, if you need to fly somewhere for a funeral, or that out-of-state wedding, you will need a REAL ID if you don’t have a passport or other acceptable form of ID. The REAL ID will be required for domestic air travel, in addition to accessing certain federal buildings, Department of Defense installations and entering nuclear power plants.
Why the REAL ID?
Back in 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, based on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for issuing licenses and prohibits federal agencies from accepting IDs that don’t meet the minimum standards.
If you don’t want to get a REAL ID, there are other alternatives. You can use a current passport, a U.S. Department of Defense ID, or a DHS Trusted Traveler Card. Louisiana does not offer an Enhanced Driver’s License, which is another option for a handful of states.
How do you know if you don’t have a REAL ID? Pull out your driver’s license and look for a star in the corner – if it’s not there, it’s not a REAL ID. To update your ID to a REAL ID, you’ll need to visit your local OMV with the proper documents in hand. A typical Louisiana resident will need to provide a birth certificate or passport, your social security card, and two documents to establish residency which could be utility bills or bank statements for example. For a complete list of documents, visit the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles website at expresslane.org and click on the REAL ID CHECKLIST link which will walk you through what to bring.
Sara Horn is a travel advisor and office manager at Zachary Travel, a locally owned travel agency that’s helped families in Zachary, Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas plan vacations and travel for almost 40 years.
Contact us at 225.654.9210 or visit us at zacharytravel.com.
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