What Forms of ID Can I Use If the TSA Won’t Accept My Driver’s License Next Year?

Mar 22, 2017

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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

TPG reader Linda is planning ahead for next year when certain IDs won’t be accepted at TSA checkpoints, as she tells us in an email…

We live in one of those states whose driver’s license won’t be valid for flying next year. Can a passport card be used with TSA for domestic flights?

TPG Reader Linda


Linda is referring to the news that starting January 22, 2018, residents of states who have not complied with the federal REAL ID Act will no longer be able to use their driver’s license or other state-issued ID as a valid form of identification at TSA checkpoints. The TSA has begun posting warning signs at some checkpoints around the country.

Oklahoma recently received an extension, so the states currently scheduled to be affected are Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington. If you live in one of these states, what can you do? Well, assuming the deadline gets enforced, starting next January you’ll need to carry another valid form of identification with you when flying in, out or within the United States.

Signs at TSA checkpoints warn travelers of the possible need for alternate IDs.

So the question is what qualifies as a valid form of identification? What about a US passport card, which is a more limited form of a passport that can only be used at land border crossings or ports of entry by sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda? The answer is yes — a US passport card is currently a valid form of ID and will continue to be valid for domestic travel, as will a regular US passport.

However, if you don’t have a passport or passport card, there are actually several other options you can use for ID, some of which you might already have. For instance, if you’re a member of the Global Entry program, your Global Entry card can serve as an accepted form of identification, as can ID cards from any of the other trusted traveler programs such as NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST.

In fact, there are at least 15 different forms of ID that are accepted by the TSA. Here’s the official list from tsa.gov:

  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

If that’s not enough, we’ve also heard from readers in the past who have used some crazy forms of ID to make it through a TSA checkpoint, including credit cards, a student ID and even a library card! While we wouldn’t recommend showing up at the airport without one of the officially accepted forms of ID, if you find yourself stuck, you might at least take a look at what other cards are in your wallet.

And don’t forget that if all else fails, you can fly without ID. However, doing so requires completing TSA paperwork to supply additional identifying information, subjecting yourself to possible additional screening and leaving yourself plenty of extra time at the airport to accomplish all that.

But your passport card will definitely work, Linda, which means you’re good to go no matter what happens next January. Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader with a question you’d like answered, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or send an email to info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image courtesy of SAUL LOEB/Getty Images.

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