In 2005 Congress passed a new law, known as the REAL ID Act. This law established new requirements for state issued identification to be used for certain purposes. Among those purposes is presenting identification in order to board a commercial flight. Currently, the requirement to present a REAL ID Act compliant identification card for the purpose of air travel is set to take effect January 22, 2018.
Some states, Washington among them, currently have not met the requirements set forth by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for state issued driver’s licenses to be REAL ID Act compliant. Although the State of Washington has established a new driver’s license standard, in the form of an enhanced driver’s license, it does not meet all of the requirements established by DHS to be considered valid under the REAL ID Act. This means that if nothing changes, Washington State driver’s licenses will not be considered valid identification for boarding a commercial flight in the United States effective January 22, 2018. While that is a major concern, and needs to be addressed through political action, there is a separate but related issue that warrants your attention.
DHS has directed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to install signage at security checkpoints across the country, not later than December 15, 2016, informing the traveling public of the impending deadline. The signage is vague, and not state specific, and has high potential to cause concern among travelers. Many people traveling this holiday season will be infrequent travelers who likely will not be aware of the REAL ID Act or its implications. I feel that this signage will cause unnecessary stress and concern for travelers during this busy time of year.
Attached is a joint letter signed by the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Spokane International Airport detailing these concerns. This letter has already been sent to TSA Administrator Jeh Johnson, but as of this writing no response has been received. Please review the letter at your earliest convenience, and feel free to use its contents as a guide for expressing your organization’s concern about this unwarranted fear campaign being promoted by DHS. I also encourage you to talk with your local TSA, and to take whatever measures you are able to in order to prevent the installation of these signs at your airport.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if I can be of any assistance in this matter.
SEA-GEG Letter on REAL ID.pdf