UPDATE: SINCE THIS BLOG POST, TSA HAS EXTENDED TIME TO BE COMPLIANT TO OCTOBER 2021.
For the longest time, citizens of the United States have been able to fly domestically with just a driver’s license. Thanks to the Real ID Act taking effect on October 1, 2021, many states are struggling to enforce the law. Congress passed the REAL ID ACT in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy to increase security and keep down fraud.
The Real ID Act is something that is sure to be enforced soon, and with some states lagging behind with getting their state compliant, time is running out.
The two ways that you can make sure you are prepared for your domestic flights, is to A, get a REAL ID, or B, get a passport. With both being a verified way to ensure that you get on your scheduled flight (domestically) let’s weigh the pros and cons and discuss which way will be better for you in the long run.
REAL ID PROS
- Cheaper alternative than a passport.
- Same day turn around
- Less expensive to replace if lost.
- Easier to deal with while traveling.
- If lost, the picture can be retaken.
- Not on a 10 year renewal period.
REAL ID CONS
- Expiration is within 4-6 years
- Unable to take international flights
- Not a “one-stop-shop” for ID Verification
- When applying for a new job, your ID plus another form of identification is required.
- Renewed every 10 YEARS, which is expensive.
- Able to grant you entry to all countries
- One-Stop-Shop for ID Verification
- Being able to travel to different countries at the drop of a dime.
- Passport Stamps (OK, OK A benefit for me :))
- On A 10 Year Renewal Period
- More Expensive than a “Real ID”
- Once you take your picture and submit, you’re screwed for 10 years. So take a good one.
- Heat Sensitive (Unable to withstand daunting heat)
Now with these pros and cons listed out for you, it is really your choice. My opinion on the matter is for you to go ahead and apply for a passport. Now, some people don’t have the financial means to get a passport right now, which the application fee total is going at about $145 USD right now. The “Real ID” would be a better alternative if you needed to travel immediately within the United States. Passports also do not have a fast turn around and could take anywhere from 2-8 weeks to receive a passport. Even then, if you have any dealings with the law that could keep you from receiving a passport as well, so please have your affairs in order.
If you simply do not have the money to invest in a passport right now, save and submit your application at a later time. Just be sure to have your passport BEFORE you take any international flights. A passport is an investment for someone who either does business trips or someone who really values travel as a priority.
Check Out My Post, “Trip Planning 101: How I Plan My Trips”
Read Up On The Real ID ACT here.
I encourage my Voyagers to get a passport if you do not already have one! It is a great investment!