For domestic flights, standard state licenses acceptable until fall 2020, then federal rules change

Passport, many other forms of ID will serve same purpose as enhanced license

Washington residents have until October 2020 to determine what type of identity document they will need to travel on commercial flights within the United States or to access certain federal facilities. This is when federal requirements will be enforced regarding what kinds of state-issued identification are acceptable.

The new identification requirements are part of the REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005. Currently, Washington state residents can obtain a standard driver’s license or ID, or an enhanced driver’s license or ID. Proof of identity and residence is required to obtain a standard card, while an individual must also show proof of U.S. citizenship to obtain an enhanced card.

A sample enhanced driver’s license.

Beginning in July 2018, Washington State must clearly mark its standard driver’s license and ID cards as noncompliant with federal requirements. By fall of 2018, the Washington State Department of Licensing expects to be in full compliance with the law, and it will apply for certification from the Department of Homeland Security. In October 2020, after REAL ID certification is granted, Washington residents flying domestically or accessing some federal facilities will be required to show an enhanced ID or other form of acceptable federal identification.

This timeline is part of the agreement state and federal officials have reached after several years of discussion.

DOL notes Washingtonians are not required to get an enhanced driver’s license or ID card, and encourages residents to consider their options and look at other forms of federally acceptable ID they may already have.

Other forms of federally acceptable ID are:

  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • Military ID
  • Green card
  • Homeland Security-issued trusted traveler card
  • Foreign government issued passport
  • Border crossing card
  • Airline or airport ID issued under a TSA-approved security plan
  • Federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID
  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 Personal Identity Verification card
“It’s important for people to know they have options and can continue to use a variety of identification documents under REAL ID,” DOL Director Pat Kohler said. “Enhanced licenses are definitely not a requirement but can be an alternative for those who travel frequently within the U.S.”

This year, the Washington Legislature passed a bill that directs DOL to fully comply with the REAL ID Act. The measure, Senate Bill 5008, also lowers the price of an enhanced driver’s license or ID card, which is valid for six years, from $108 to $78. DOL will begin rolling out the marked standard identification cards and driver’s licenses next year at a cost of $54. Those also are valid for six years.

“This will help to ease problems at border crossings, airports, federal courthouses, and military bases where REAL ID compliant documents are required,” Inslee said before signing the legislation.

Beginning in October 2020, a standard Washington state driver’s license will no longer be an acceptable form of identification to show at airports for those flying within the United States. That is when new rules under the federal REAL ID Act kick in. Pictured: Denver International Airport.

Although standard driver’s license and ID cards must be clearly marked under SB 5008, law enforcement cannot use them as a basis for the criminal investigation, arrest or detention of an undocumented person who otherwise would not be criminally investigated, arrested or detained.

“This bill continues to allow folks who can prove their identity and their residence address — and who are qualified drivers — to get a standard driver’s license, or a standard ID card if they aren’t drivers,” Kohler said. “If you don’t plan to fly on an airplane and don’t need to go to a military base or other restricted federal facility, then you might not need to have a REAL ID compliant document. A standard driver’s license might work just fine for you.”

Even when REAL ID enforcement begins, people who do not have a federally acceptable document will still have access to federal courts, Social Security offices, health care facilities, national parks and other federal facilities that do not require ID to access.