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March 5, 2020

FAQ: Everything You Need to Know About REAL IDs

The corporate travel game is constantly changing, which is why it’s necessary to have a trusted technology-first tool like TripActions to make it as simple as possible. And it’s important to prepare as far ahead of time as possible so business travel remains efficient and enjoyable, empowering business travelers to arrive ready to shine.

One transition on the horizon in the United States is the enforcement of the REAL ID Act. Starting October 2021, business travelers will need a REAL ID or passport to board domestic flights. The start date was pushed from October 2020 to October 2021 in March 2020 when the global COVID-19 pandemic brought most travel as well as government agencies to a halt.

The TripActions mission from day one has been to make work travel effortless so employees can focus on being there, not getting there. Helping our business travelers, travel managers, finance and procurement leaders, and HR teams understand the changes happening in the travel experience and industry is part of that mission.

What is the REAL ID Act?

The REAL ID Act set clearer standards for government-issued photo IDs and adds an extra layer of security for passengers flying commercial airlines. Although the process of issuing and mandating that business travelers have the new REAL ID has been in motion for more than a decade, it will officially go into effect on October 1, 2020.

For entrepreneurs, executives, and employees, October will come sooner than we expect.

Do I have a REAL ID?

It is possible that business travelers already have a REAL ID as state governments started issuing them instead of the previous ID for some time.

Check your ID for a star. It might be a gold star, black star, or star in a cutout gold or black circle. In California, business travelers’ ID will have a star cutout in a gold grizzly bear. If it has any of the above, it is a REAL ID.

If the ID says “Federal Limits Apply” then it is not REAL ID approved and you’ll have to request a new one which may take additional paperwork, a processing fee, and time.

All states are currently issuing REAL IDs with the exception of Oregon, Oklahoma, and New Jersey.

Can I Fly Without a REAL ID?

While you have until October 1, 2020 to receive a REAL ID, you will still be able to pass through TSA security checkpoints without one if you also travel with a U.S. passport or one of the following TSA-approved forms of identification:

  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler card
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Foreign government-issued passport

Many business travelers are enrolled in a fast-track security program including TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or Nexus, but this doesn’t exclude them from needing a REAL ID. If you’re not enrolled in one of these programs, it is worth applying. You can learn more about faster security-screening programs here.

How to Obtain a REAL ID

The process for obtaining a REAL ID changes in each state so the best place to look is your state’s driver’s licensing agency website to find out exactly what documentation you need.

In general, you’ll need to bring documentation proving age and identity, Social Security number and address. It’s best to be prepared with a birth certificate or passport, a Social Security card or tax form such as a W-2, and two proofs of address. If you’ve changed your name through marriage, you’ll also need a marriage certificate.

Do I Need a REAL ID for International Travel?

One of the best parts of domestic U.S. travel is that you only need a driver’s license or similar ID to board. This will change if you don’t have the REAL ID as you’ll need additional identification to go through the security checkpoint.

It’s important to remember that you will still need a passport to board international flights even with the REAL ID. If you have more detailed questions, visit Homeland Security here.

While TripActions can’t prepare your REAL ID, we are ready to assist with your travel plans on any device that you sign in on. We wish you the safest travels out there.

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