In 2005, the United States Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which tightened requirements for identification presented by travelers at airports around the country.
After repeated delays to enforce the law, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set Oct. 1, 2020, as the final deadline. After a decade-and-a-half of keeping it at bay, states are finally coming aboard. So far, 27 states have complied, and the remaining states—including Arizona—either have received an extension or are under review for one.
The Arizona Legislature recently passed a law that outlines the necessary actions Arizonans must take in order to be compliant with the REAL ID Act including requiring those with a license or identification card to voluntarily take steps to acquire another card, a Voluntary Travel ID.
The law requires compliant IDs or licenses to have a gold star embedded on the upper right-hand corner. This star shows that the bearer of the ID has offered documentation of their identity by providing proof such as a birth certificate or U.S. Passport, among other possible items). Additionally, the customer has to provide his or her social security number on a document such as the Social Security card or a W-2 form, and finally must provide two pieces of documentation proving Arizona residency (i.e., mortgage statement, utility bill, etc.).
From now until October 1, 2020, Arizonans are encouraged to obtain this new ID. If the new Voluntary Travel ID is not obtained, then residents won’t be able to travel out of several airports throughout the state and country with just a regular driver’s license. Have a 7:32 am flight out of Sky Harbor? Red-eye from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway in Mesa? Then you might want to get a leg up on grabbing one of these cards.
“Our stake in this is simple: we provide the driver license or ID, and even though we have no role in setting the policies of Congress or the state, we do not wish to see customers inconvenienced by not having the Travel ID if they want it,” Douglas Nick, Assistant Communications Director for Customer Outreach at the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), said. “MVD serves about 7,300 people each business day at our physical locations. As of March, 2019, there will be about 400 business days until Oct. 1, 2020, so there is actually not a lot of time to handle the potential need for everyone who may want a Travel ID.”
One of the main goals of the federal act is to prevent possible bad actors, such as terrorists, from boarding commercial aircraft. This added layer of protection has been implemented across the country, with some states already enforcing the law. Other states, like Arizona, Maine and California, have been granted the extension through the end of September.
“We don’t want to see a rush of customers at MVD or Authorized Third Party offices in 2020 as people realize they may want to get this ID,” adds Nick.
According to Nick, it should be noted that many frequent travelers have U.S. Passports and those will be accepted at TSA checkpoints, but people need to be aware that they would need their passport even for domestic travel. The Travel ID is not a replacement for a passport.
“If you travel internationally and have a Travel ID, you’ll still need a passport, even just to get back into the U.S. from Rocky Point or Nogales, Sonora, for example,” said Nick.
The Voluntary Travel IDs are available through the Motor Vehicle Division, part of the Arizona Department of Transportation, and can also be obtained through ServiceArizona.com.