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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Getting There: Most Washington IDs won’t fly in a year, state officials say, urging people to get their enhanced licenses for airplane travel

The Washington State Department of Licensing announced residents will need an Enhanced Driver License or other form of accepted identification to board an airplane starting in May of 2025. Photo courtesy of the state DOL.

In one year, a standard driver’s license or state-issued ID card will no longer be adequate identification for Washington residents to board an airplane.

Instead, people 18 and older will need to bring an enhanced driver’s license or ID card, U.S. passport, tribal ID, military ID, green card or another approved identification document with them to the airport.

The change is the state’s response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s move to “Real ID” compliance for domestic flights. Effective May 7, 2025, the new federal “Real ID” guidelines were born out of security legislation passed by Congress in 2005 in response to 9/11.

State Department of Licensing Director Marcus Glasper visited the Spokane International Airport earlier this month to discuss the upcoming change in federal law. Glasper urged people to take proactive steps to evaluate their identification card setups well before the May 7 deadline.

“Please don’t wait until next year,” Glasper said. “If you’re thinking of getting an enhanced driver license or ID card, I encourage you to do it as soon as possible. Lines at driver licensing offices will get longer as we get closer to the May 7, 2025, deadline.”

Roughly 22% of Washington residents with licenses or state-issued ID cards already have made the switch to an enhanced license, state Department of Licensing spokesperson Christine Anthony said.

Enhanced licenses cost more than standards ones. An enhanced license that expires in five years costs $116, compared to $81 .

Licensing officials aren’t sure exactly how many people will make the switch at their local licensing offices in the next 12 months, because they don’t have records of the number of people with other forms of ID that will work under the new federal law.

Licensing offices across the state recently instituted an online appointment system where people can reserve a time slot in advance to cut down on in-person wait times. Walk-ins still are accepted.

To figure out what documents to bring for an appointment to get an enhanced ID card, Anthony said the DOL manages a web page with instructions for residents.

Anthony wanted to remind the public that they might already have another form of ID that will work to get them on an airplane.

“It’s just about knowing what you have and knowing what you might need,” Anthony said. “We have a website that people can go to that will walk them through.”

The following ID formats will be accepted in lieu of an enhanced license or state-issued ID card:

  • U.S. or foreign passport.
  • U.S. passport card.
  • Military ID.
  • Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST).
  • Tribal ID.
  • Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

Called the Real ID Act, the federal law that will require additional identification to board airplanes was passed by Congress in 2005. Multiple times, the government has punted the date they say the law will take effect.