Traveling is so much fun. Whether it’s a domestic flight to the mountains or big city or an international flight to the other side of the world, if you don’t have the proper documents needed to board those flights, you’re trip will come to an end before it begins. Below is information on the Real ID Act’s state-issued ID requirements and resources to properly apply for or renew a US Passport.
PASSPORTS FOR DOMESTIC FLIGHTS
If you’ve traveled throughout the past couple of years, domestic or international, you’ve probably seen all of the signs in the airports about the new State issued Identification Card requirements for domestic flights. If not, here is a quick rundown:
In 2005, Congress announced the Real ID Act. This Act requires state-issued IDs to have certain security features and data attached to them in order to be valid and improve their reliability. These improvements include facial recognition technology with the goal to make it more difficult for terrorists to use fraudulant identification.
To allow time for State’s to make updates to their respective identification cards, the Act was implemented in a 4-phase process. The last and 4th phase is enforcing the identification requirements to board federally regulated aircrafts.
Effective January 22, 2018, if your state of residency has not met these new requirements, you will be required to provide a valid US Passport for domestic flights.
As of now, there are no states under the ‘not compliant’ status, but several states are under review or on an extension with a definite end date. Below is a map identifying each state which the DHS will continue to update on their website.
While not accepted for international travel, passport cards that are the same size as a driver’s license can be used for domestic travel if your state was to fall under non-compliance. The cost is $55 for a first-time applicant and $30 if you already have a passport.
NEW PASSPORT PROCESS
If you don’t have a passport, get one. Even if you don’t have a trip planned. There are so many great travel deals that randomly pop up and there are so many guides to see the world on a budget that you should be prepared for any travel opportunity! Plus, I just think it’s a good idea to have another form of government issued identification.
Applying for a passport is not difficult and the U.S. Department of State has the directions listed out along with the needed supportive documents and associated fees.
If you’re planning on renewing your US Passport in 2018, you will be joining almost 18 million others! What does this mean for you? Longer processing time than the average 4- 6 weeks.
How did this happen? In 2007, there was a travel legislation implemented that resulted in a mass push for passport applications. Since adult passports are good for 10 years (children for 5), 2017 and 2018 are big renewal periods. Earlier this year, I had one friend apply for a passport for the first time while another renewed her passport but both informed me the process took about 1- 1.5 months from the application submission to receiving heir passport in the mail. I don’t recommend taking your time if you are in need of a renewal and have an upcoming trip planned, but hopefully this means they’re ahead of the curve and prepared for this influx.
If you meet the requirements, you can complete the DS 82 application online (definitely recommended to avoid errors) and then submit via mail. As of now, an option to complete the entire renewal online is not available.
Qualifications for submitting application via mail:
- Your passport is submitted with your application
- Passport is not damaged (normal “wear and tear” is expectes)
- Passport was issued when you were age 16 or older
- Passport was issued within the last 15 years
- Passport was issued in your current name (or you can document your name change with an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order)
If you do not meet the above qualifications, you must apply in person (with all required documents). Passport acceptance facilities have been designated by the Department of State and can be found online by entering your zip code for nearby locations.
- Use a padded envelope and a tracking number when mailing your renewal application, passport and fees.
- If you are expediting your passport, write out ‘EXPEDITED’ on the outside of the envelope and be sure to include the $60 fee (the fee amount is subject to change annually).
- You can check the status of your application by entering your last name, date of birth and the last 4 digits of your social.
- Passports must be valid a minimum of 3 months after your travel dates so be sure to consider this when purchasing those flights.