How to Prepare for the Real ID Deadline

U.S. travelers will soon require a Real ID or approved passport to board domestic flights.

On Oct. 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will fully roll out enforcement of the Real ID Act -- a federal initiative (first introduced in 2005) to enforce security standards for U.S. license issuance and the licenses/credentials federal agencies will accept for travel identification verification.

Yet despite the looming deadline, the U.S. Travel Association says a majority of Americans are unprepared for the change. According to a survey conducted by market research consultancy Longwoods International for U.S. Travel, 72 percent of Americans either do not have a Real ID-compliant driver's license or are unsure if they do. Even more, 57 percent of those surveyed reported unawareness of the deadline and 39 percent (equivalent to 99 million Americans) said they currently do not have any form of approved identification.

If Real ID enforcement were to be implemented today, USTA says an estimated 78,500 travelers would be denied admission beyond airline gates, resulting in a travel spending loss of approximately $40.3 million. If this daily impact lasted a week, an estimated 549,500 air travelers would be turned away, costing the industry nearly $282 million. And with the holiday season upon us -- a time where an average of 2.5 million Americans are expected to fly each day, according to the Washington Post -- these numbers are especially alarming. Come next holiday season, all air travelers, even those only flying within the U.S., will need a Real ID to travel. 

Read the full story, including tips from the U.S. Travel Association on where and how to get a Real ID, at