Updated: Mar 17
♪♫ All my bags are packed; I’m ready to go. ♪ ♫♪ But wait! Are you ready to go?
With the vaccine rollout, many people are anxious to travel. They’re missing their loved ones, or the wanderlust is just too strong to ignore.
Domestic travel has always been relatively easy. There are no language barriers, no currency to exchange, we all drive on the same side of the road, and no passports are needed. You just show up at the airport with your driver’s license and boarding pass, and you’re good to go.
Beginning October 1, 2021, things will get a little more complicated as you will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license to fly domestically. What does this mean?
You will need to get your REAL ID at your local DMV. Before going, you’ll need to check their website to see what documentation is required. Each state is different, but some of the documents include a valid passport, birth certificate, or permanent resident card; social security card or W-2 with social security number; proof of address on a utility bill, mortgage statement, deed, or title to residential property, insurance documents, or a rental/lease agreement. This list is long, but you will only be required to submit 2-3 of them. The website will let you know exacely what is needed. Some states allow you to submit the documents online before going to the DMV, but you will still need to take them with you for comparison.
Once you get your license REAL ID-certified, the DMV will most likely put a star at the top of it. If you don’t get the REAL ID before October 1, you will be required to show a valid passport at TSA to get through security. So does a REAL ID replace a passport? The answer is no if you’re traveling internationally. You will still need a valid passport.
Speaking of passports, you might want to check the expiration date on yours if you have one. When traveling internationally, it is strongly recommended (and required in some destinations) that your passport be valid for at least six months past your travel dates. For instance, if you’re traveling in May 2022, your passport should be valid, at a minimum, through November 2022. If you’re going to need to renew it, it’s always best to give yourself plenty of time. With the return to travel in 2021, passport requests are expected to spike, which will mean longer-than-usual processing times.
October 1, 2021. Please put it on your calendar but don’t wait until September. Being the natural procrastinators that we humans are, the lines at the DMV are sure to get longer as we get closer to October 1.