The Department of Homeland Security is currently reviewing whether to extend a grace period given to some states to comply with the REAL ID Act. The Act requires that state-issued forms of identification, such as driver’s licenses, comply with criteria in the REAL ID Act.

Key points:

  • If DHS does not grant the extension, travelers with driver’s licenses issued by noncompliant states will not be able to use them for air travel. They will need to use a passport or other type of identification that complies with the Act.
  • Currently, Louisiana, Michigan and New York (plus American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands) are noncompliant and under consideration for another extension. The original extension for these jurisdictions to comply ended Oct. 10, but DHS has given them a grace period until Jan. 22, during which time federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, will continue accept noncompliant driver’s licenses. If the agency does not further extend the period, travelers holding driver’s licenses from these jurisdictions will need to use other compliant ID forms, such as a passport, to fly domestically beginning Jan. 22.
  • Twenty-one other states, plus Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, are currently under an extension that ends Oct. 10, 2018.
  • A full map that is updated by DHS with changes is available here.

Background: The REAL ID Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2005, requires states to issue driver’s licenses that contain a machine-readable data chip or magnetic strip. To date, 27 states are compliant under the Act.

BAL Analysis: Affected travelers should check the DHS REAL ID Act webpage for information before Jan. 22 to determine if they will need to use other accepted IDs for air travel.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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