Major Changes Are Coming to U.S. Domestic Air Travel

Americans enjoy traveling not only to other countries around the world, but to new communities and towns throughout the U.S., as well. Though traveling for vacation and other leisure purposes is preferred, business is typically the reason for most daily domestic travel.

In fact, approximately 50% of limousine services during the week are provided for business and corporate customers. As a whole, U.S. travelers went on 458.9 million domestic business trips in 2016, and that number is projected to increase to 478.2 million by 2020. There could be a major problem with domestic business travel, however, starting as early as late January: passport requirements.

Approximately 46% of Americans have a passport. According to CNBC, starting January 22, for some, a driver’s license will no longer suffice for domestic travel thanks to the Real ID Act.

This is the final phase of an act passed by U.S. Congress in 2005, in the wake of September 11, which aimed to heighten security standards of domestic and international travel, as well as raise the security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses.

“One of the goals is to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircrafts,” said Steve Yonkers, director of Real ID at the Department of Homeland Security.

All 50 states are currently in the process of implementing Real ID programs; 28 states and territories are already fully compliant and 26 have been granted extensions through October 10. Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a Real ID-complaint license (or another acceptable form of ID) for domestic air travel.

Here are the nine states that will require passports for domestic flights:

  • Kentucky
  • Washington
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • South Carolina
  • Missouri
  • Pennsylvania
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma

Each of these states does not currently issue a state ID that lives up to federal ID security requirements, meaning they will have roughly three months to make changes to their state IDs or drivers licenses in order to adhere to federal government standards. If not, state residents will need to renew their passports before passing TSA and getting on a commercial flight to another city in the United States.

It’s important to note, however, that other forms of ID will work for domestic travel, including military IDs and permanent resident cards (green cards).

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