Under what circumstances, and as of what date, might I be required to hold a US passport in order to fly domestically within the United States?

  • 6
    I hope that foreigners flying domestically within the USA won't need a US passport.
    – mouviciel
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 19:08
  • @mouviciel I put the tag US Citizens, meaning this question is specifically for US Citizens flying domestically within our own country.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 17:01

1 Answer 1



A US passport is one of several documents that can be used to establish your identity at a TSA security checkpoint. An obvious way to fly without being required to have a US passport is to have any other document on the list.

People who do not have documents on the list may nonetheless fly by undergoing additional screening:

Forgot Your ID?

In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification, because it is lost or at home, you may still be allowed to fly. The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint. You may be subject to additional screening, to include a patdown and screening of carry-on property.

You will not be allowed to enter the security checkpoint if your identity cannot be confirmed, you chose to not provide proper identification or you decline to cooperate with the identity verification process.

TSA recommends that you arrive at least two hours in advance of your flight time.

You are probably asking in connection with Real ID. A number of states are not currently compliant with the Real ID requirements, although most of those states have an extension to the deadline. IDs issued by states that do not have an extension will not be accepted on or after January 22, 2018:

When will I need to change how I travel domestically?

Starting January 22, 2018, passengers who have driver’s licenses or identification cards issued by a state that is not compliant with REAL ID and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. 

Starting October 1, 2020, every traveler will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel.

(It should be noted that some states issue enhanced driver's licenses, which can always be used even if the state's regular licenses are not compliant.)

If your only acceptable forms of ID are your driver's license (or other state-issued ID) and your passport, then the date on which you'll have to start using your passport to avoid the additional screening depends on which state you live in. There is a Department of Homeland Security map illustrating this.

A related question:

Will residents of New York State need an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) to fly domestically in the US in 2016?

  • 2
    Note that the DHS map had a number of states in red as recently as June or July, so the fact they've all turned blue or yellow at this point suggests that January 22, 2018 is probably not going to be a problem for anyone. California, being California, won't start issuing RealID licenses until January 22, 2018, the latest excusable date, and needs everyone who wants one to go to a DMV office to get it, which should be great because DMV offices have huge lines even with the current 10-15 year in-person renewal policy.
    – user38879
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 18:15
  • 6
    Following your first link, I learned "TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States." The following may be too stupid to make up a travel.SE question of its own, but: How is the fact that a person is under 18 verified in the absence of identification? Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 21:00
  • 1
    I think the case of Oklahoma here may be helpful. They have been very reluctant to make their licenses compliant with RealID. They (reluctantly) went with the 2-tiered driver's license option, but have still been dragging their feet. Rather than force Oklahomans to use passports or other alternate ID in the meantime, the federal government has been giving the state continual extensions. The most recent one just this month gives them another entire year (October 2018). If there's any lack of patience on the federal level, it has yet to show it self.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 21:30
  • @Dennis I believe a personal appearance at least every other renewal, or with some other minimum frequency, is part of the Real ID standard -- one ofthe reasons I'm happy New York has gone to a three-tier system.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 0:16
  • @HagenvonEitzen nice catch. I can't believe I never thought of that.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 0:18

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