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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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With one year to go, Real ID deadlines loom for airline passengers

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 1, 2019

A TSA Officer checks passenger’s travel documents at Spokane International Airport. (Emma Epperly / The Spokesman-Review)
A TSA Officer checks passenger’s travel documents at Spokane International Airport. (Emma Epperly / The Spokesman-Review)

An estimated 99 million Americans do not have any form of Real ID compliant documents which will be required to fly domestically after Oct. 1, 2020.

“There’s a great deal of misunderstanding and potential confusion out there with regard to whether or not someone has a Real ID compliant driver’s license or a number of the other Real ID compliant documents that they could use for air travel,” said Larry Krauter, CEO of Spokane International Airport.

Congress passed the Real ID act in 2005 as one of the recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. It established minimum standards for both state-issued driver licenses and identification cards and prohibited federal agencies from accepting non-compliant forms of identification.

“Real ID is intended to improve the reliability and the accuracy of driver’s licenses and identification cards while inhibiting the ability of terrorists and other people who want to defraud the system from being able to do so,” said Lorie Dankers, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman in Seattle.

There are many forms of identification that meet Real ID standards other than enhanced driver licenses like U.S. or foreign passports, Military ID, Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler cards, tribal ID, and Transportation Worker Identification Credentials.

“One year from now, your standard driver’s license or ID card is no longer going to be enough to get on an airplane,” said Teresa Berntsen, director of the Washington Department of Licensing

In Washington, an enhanced driver license is Real ID compliant and costs $78 for six years or $4 more than a standard license.

“We want Washington to be prepared,” said Berntsen.

The department expects higher wait times during Summer and Fall 2020 as the October 2020 deadline approaches, Berntsen said.

To obtain an enhanced license in Washington, people must go into a licensing office and show four forms of identification. Proof of U.S. citizenship is required which can be a passport, birth certificate, or certificate of citizenship or naturalization among other documents.

Identity verification can often be the same document that shows citizenship or a state issued driver license or military ID card. A document showing an individual’s complete Social Security number like a Social Security card or W-2 form is also required. Lastly, proof of residency in Washington with two documents like a utility or phone bill are also required.

Office wait times are listed on the Department of Licensing website and Berntsen said waits are currently quite short.

For those who travel frequently, there won’t be a gap left while waiting for a new Real ID license to be mailed. After applying for your Real ID license and receiving a paper copy, individuals can fly by showing their standard license and temporary paper Real ID license together.

While passports are Real ID compliant, it is not recommend traveling domestically with that as your sole form of identification.

“I personally don’t recommend people travel domestically with their passport as their primary form of identification, because the risk of losing that and the stakes are pretty high,” said Dankers. “However, you can get a passport card when you renew your passport.”

A passport card is about the same size as a typical drivers license and allows travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, along with domestic travel.

In Idaho a visit to the DMV is required to get a “Star Card” their version of a Real ID license. A Star Card requires similar documents to Washington.

Oregon is one of the last states to have an extension on the REAL ID requirement. After July 6, Oregon Residents can obtain a Real ID by submitting documentation similar to that required in Washington.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of early action, because again the capacity that DOL is going to have to issue Real ID compliant driver’s licenses, obviously, is going to be impacted with a surge of people,” said Krauter “The sooner that people take action I think the better off everyone’s going to be.”

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