You Better Get Your Passport—The TSA Won’t Accept Driver’s Licenses from These 5 States

If you have a Montana Driver’s License, you better also get your passport soon if you plan to fly in 2018.

Beginning January 22, 2018, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer accept state-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards from states that are non-compliant of the REAL ID Act.

There are currently five states that do not meet the federal government’s minimum security standards, including:

  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Washington

According to the REAL ID Act of 2005, federal agencies, such as TSA, are prohibited to accept any driver’s license or ID cards issued from states that do not meet the Act’s minimum standards. Consequently, residents of the states listed above must use alternate forms of ID (passport, military ID, or permanent resident card) to pass through TSA security checkpoints in the coming year.

As of February 24, 2017, only 24 states comply with the federal ID standards, and 21 have been granted extensions. The remaining 5 states can also be granted extensions if they are in the process of changing their state ID standards, but the deadline to apply for the extension is set for October, 2017. No additional extensions will be granted by the federal government after October, 2017.

For a state issued ID to pass the federal government’s security standards, its state must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Verification of the ID applicant’s identity
  2. Integrated anti-counterfeit technology on the ID card
  3. A background check for each driver’s license applicant.

This seems reasonable, doesn’t it? But apparently changing state-wide ID standards can be a lengthy and costly process. Moreover, some states such as Missouri and Kentucky have found it difficult to pass legislation to comply with federal standards because of growing concerns over privacy. Knowing how much Montanans appreciate their privacy, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we find the same problem passing similar legislation here in Montana.

Travelers from these states can either get a passport, or wait to see if their state’s laws change in time to comply with the TSA rules. As more states get on-board, the TSA will update the shortening list of states that are non-compliant with federal standards.

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