Spread the Word Before It’s Too Late: Real ID Requirement
Last April, U.S. travelers received a second reprieve from the Real ID requirement. The original deadline of October 1, 2020 was initially postponed for one year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new deadline is now May 3, 2023.
What exactly is the Real ID?
“The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” ‘With different license configurations and security standards for driver licenses in each state, this Act creates uniformity and consistency for TSA screening. Travelers who do not present a REAL ID-compliant license or acceptable alternative beginning May 3, 2023 will not be permitted through the security checkpoint.
A valid passport will remain a viable alternative to the Real ID for domestic travel. However, international travelers will still need a passport and the Real ID will not satisfy passport requirements.
For travel industry professionals it is important to remind your clientele on an ongoing basis about the new Real ID requirements so that your customers do not end up getting turned away at the airport. As a travel advisor if you fail to notify or remind your clientele of this changing requirement, it may result in a claim being made against you for the entire cost of the trip.
With local Departments of Motor Vehicle working with reduced staffing and backlogs due to Covid-19, you may want to encourage your customers not to wait until the last minute. Securing a new compliant driver’s license may take longer due to both a rush for the compliant licenses and because of reduced turnaround times resulting from the pandemic. According to the DHS, there is still a significant portion of the U.S. population without compliant Real ID’s.
In order for your clients to determine whether they have a qualifying Real ID, the Department of Homeland Security advises that it can be verified by checking if one of the following items appear on their license:
The Department of Homeland Security website provided the following examples of compliant Real IDs:
If your client secured an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) and paid extra for the enhanced feature, they don’t need to fret. While most EDL do not contain the star marking, they may still be acceptable. EDLs issued by Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-compliant cards and will also be accepted for official REAL ID purposes.
Most of us have driver’s licenses that do not expire for many years and your average traveling consumer may not be aware of the Real ID requirement or even think about their driver’s license until it is about to expire. Don’t let them get turned away at the airport by the TSA and become a disgruntled client. Notify them today to check their license and avoid unnecessary headaches. If you have already made arrangements for post-May 3, 2023 air travel, make sure you communicate these new requirements to your clients, as soon as possible, to avoid unnecessary claims or lawsuits. Even if you haven’t accepted bookings that far out, spread the word today to your client base to assure smooth sailing (actually smooth flying) come May 3, 2023.
Kenneth F. Whitman, Esq.
Senior Program Manager
Aon Affinity Travel Practice
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